Top Things To Do In Casco Viejo

While visiting Panama, I attended two weeks of Spanish classes at Casco Antiguo Spanish School.  The school is located in Casco Viejo, a revitalized historic quarter of the city.  The popular UNESCO World Heritage Site features beautiful churches, nice plazas, a variety of museums, countless stores, and hip restaurants.  Every day after class, I took in a few sites.  Below is a list of things to do:

LET’S GO
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The Plazas of Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo is the old quarter in Panama City and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The hip and eclectic area features many restaurants, bars, shops, churches, and plazas.  While I was studying Spanish for two weeks at Casco Antiguo Spanish School, many times I spent 30 minutes either before or after class just taking in the scene.  Each plaza has a unique vibe.  See the differences below.

TAKE A SEAT

The Churches of Casco Viejo

While studying Spanish for two weeks at Casco Antiguo Spanish School in Casco Viejo, I spent much of my free time strolling the streets of the Old Town.  I loved taking in the different scenes which range from ruins to restored buildings and everything else in between.  Unlike many places in Europe, the churches are free to visit.

While I visited the churches at various times of the day, I found that popping in just before class between 7:30 and 8am or just after an early dinner before they close at 8pm are the most rewarding as the atmosphere is very tranquil.  Both the art and architecture vary in each place of worship making each visit interesting, even for the non-religious tourist.

Below is a list of the churches in Casco Viejo:

DISCOVER
panama city

Why Panamá?

I recently went to Panamá to study Spanish at the Casco Antiguo Spanish School.  Some Americans might ask why not Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Spain as these are popular places to visit for United States citizens. 

Of course, they all have draws, but having visited each country previously, I was pleasantly surprised by Panamá.  Below I’ve listed some wonderful conveniences about Panamá City. 

FIND OUT MORE
view of the panama canal from the causeway

Life at My Homestay in Panama

I recently spent two weeks in Panama studying Spanish at Casco Antiguo Spanish School.  While I could have stayed at a tourist hotel in Casco Viejo, I decided to experience a complete immersion in Panama.  As such, I stayed at Jamraka Homestay, an option among many included on the school’s website for places to stay.

The Jamraka Homestay, located in between Casco Viejo and the causeway which was great for sunset walks from the yacht club to the Biomuseo, is operated by Cachy and her son Ciro, and is a short $3 Uber ride away from the school.  Having said that, it is best to avoid the evening rush hour from 4pm to 7pm.

STAY AT A HOME

Learning Spanish at Casco Antiguo Spanish School

About one year ago, I visited Panama for one week.  I spent half my time in Panama City and the other half in Boquete.  I really enjoyed both places, so much so, that I returned to Panama City for the opportunity to improve my Spanish at Casco Antiguo Spanish School.

Though I didn’t learn of the school while in Panama, at the time I also wasn’t looking for classes despite feeling like Americans are the only people in the world that don’t know at least two languages.  Frustrated with only getting by, however, I ultimately reached out to David, the owner of the school.

LEARN SPANISH

W Costa Rica – Reserva Conchal

On my way to Panama for a Spanish Immersion class, I stopped off in Costa Rica for a few days.  Somehow, despite having been to all seven continents, all 50 states, and around 60 countries, I had never made it to Costa Rica, despite its close proximity to the USA and my desire to visit.

RELAX AT THE W
islanders from munda

Four Days in Munda

Solomon Islands

After four weeks of island hopping in the South Pacific, I met my friends, Julie and Dustin, in the Solomon Islands.  Because I had planned so much of my first four weeks in American Samoa, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu, I relied heavily on Julie and Dustin for planning in the Solomons.  As a result, I knew very little about the country which gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1978.

The sovereign state includes six major islands and over 900 smaller ones.  During our visit to the Solomon Islands, we began in its capital, Honiara, and traveled west through the Central Province to the Western Province with the Taka dive boat.  Ultimately, we ended our journey in Munda.

EXPLORE

SCUBA Diving in the Solomon Islands

In Guadalcanal

After island hopping around the South Pacific for a month, I finally joined my friends, Julie and Dustin, in the Solomons. We originally met while snorkeling with the humpbacks eight years ago, and every few years we end up in another part of the world together, usually on a dive boat live aboard. After a few days in Honiara, we boarded the Taka along with 12 other guests.

Our pick up took place at 6pm at the Coral Sea Resort, though was slightly delayed due to the rainy weather. Lupa had us sign waivers in the pavilion while Adam coordinated both the transport of our bags in the tender to our boat, as well as the transport of the passengers. When the rain decreased to a sprinkle, the crew zipped back and forth in the tender, taking about four of us at a time to our home for the next week.

GO DIVING
at Tenaru Falls in the Guadalcanal

Top Things to Do in Honiara

Getting to the Solomons

After four weeks of island hopping, I joined my friends in the Solomons after an unusual connecting flight through Fiji.  The gentleman in my row asked me to carry his alcohol through immigration.  I’m sure it was just due to a limit, but entering a foreign country, I politely replied, “No, thank you.”  Upon a second attempt, to which I said no again, he told me I wasn’t being very nice!

A few folks behind us overheard, and at the end of the flight, they wanted to know more.  In the end, I learned, one lady sails her boat around the world.  Envious, I said, I wish I met you while in Vanuatu, I always find myself wanting to be on islands that are only accessible to boats.  She told me for the future, I could just go to a website call Crew Seekers.  Hello!  That’s how I’ll be doing some of my future trips.

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