I went on a few excursions. The first was Mira Flores Locks Tour. This tour gives an interesting overview of the history and building of the Panama Canal which includes a 10 minute movie (in English) followed by a walk thru of the 3 tiered museum and viewing platform of the locks. You are able to see a transit in action from this high perch. This is a good tour for those that may want to get a taste of the canal without actually having to invest the time in doing an entire transit themselves.
Next is the Casco Viejo / City Sightseeing Tour. Driving from the Mira Flores locks to the old historical section of town takes about 15 minutes thru typical city sites. Once you arrive in the old, colonial section, it is very charming. The restored buildings, churches and squares are now home to shops, bars and restaurants. This area has been declared an UNESCO world heritage site. It has the feel and look of downtown Puerto Vallarta with its cobblestone streets and tiled roofs. The buildings have a distinctive colonial feel with wrought iron balconies and old world architecture much like Key West, Jamaica or the French quarter in New Orleans. Some of the highlights include the National Theatre, the San Francisco de Asis church and Las Bovedas, a restored prison that is now home to a wonderful restaurant and wine bar as well as a promenade with amazing views of the city. The best way to see and experience Casco Viejo is by foot, so a walking tour is a must.
I was also taken shopping at the Artisan village, which is set up like a flea market consisting of numerous stalls all located under one roof. Clients can barter for arts, crafts, jewelry as well as the local molas (hand stitched, brightly colored, quilted embroidery) etc. The vendors are NOT at all aggressive.
Stay tunes for the next blog with more hotel reviews!