Our rides have arrived. The new Cinta Costera waterfront promenade connects the Luna’s Castle doorstep with the high rises of downtown. But let’s be honest, why walk when you can get there in some serious style. We send away many a sad tourist staying at neighboring hotels who come by to sweet talk their way into a spin. Sorry folks, we don’t rent these bikes. They’re for our guests only. Cost to you guys, the guests? Nothing. totally gratis. Drop your pack, grab a cruiser, and speed away towards the setting sun.
follow this link to read the article… :)
Casco Viejo is home to some of the best restaurants in Panama but it is also home to some of the best hidden secrets as well. Locals flock to the cafeterias, fondas and carts at lunch time. And once you discover your favorite spot you’ll come back hungry for more.
One of the many great things about eating like the locals do is that the price matches. You can get a $1 hotdog, “con todos”, from a cart in Plaza Catedral that is sure to fill your belly for the afternoon. Full meals at the cafeterias are between $3 and $4. A fonda at the end of Calle 4oe serves up “pechuga” or “chuleta” with rice, salad and a fried plantain for just $3.50. And the BBQ cart near Plaza Bolivar might make the best BBQ in all of Panama; workers line up around the block waiting for that Styrofoam box of goodness.
Are you comfortable ordering food in Spanish? If not consider a ½ day Backpacker’s Spanish Course at the Casco Antiguo Spanish School. Casco Antiguo Spanish School is located in the heart of Casco Viejo within walking distance from Luna’s. Their ½ day Backpacker’s course teaches you basic phrases and grammar making day to day communication a breeze! Ask your friendly front desk receptionist for directions and a coupon for a free one-hour class!
Fast, rapid, and beautiful, conversational Spanish sounds like music. However, having a simple conversation can be anything but simple when you are communicating in a language foreign to you. Ordering food and asking for directions can prove to be nearly impossible. Being able to communicate on even the most basic level can change your entire experience.
The Casco Antiguo Spanish School offers a free conversational Spanish class on Saturday mornings. Every level of Spanish speaker is welcome and encouraged to participate. Practice makes perfect so why not monopolize on an opportunity for free guided practice. The conversational Spanish class is an opportunity to develop your vocabulary and meet new people
The Casco Antiguo Spanish School is located just off Avenida A on Calle 4 about a 5 minute walk from Luna’s Castle. To make a reservation email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +507 838 5592. Their classes will lead you one step closer to speaking conversational Spanish.
Many travelers only have one day to spend in Panama City and with so much to see where do you begin? Panama City is a giant metropolis filled with history and culture. Panama City is about 106 square miles which is roughly one tenth the size of New York. The close proximity of everything makes it very easy to squeeze a lot into one or two days.
The Panama Canal seems like an obvious destination. However, many travelers over look this popular tourist destination and don’t take time to visit the Miraflores Locks. It’s a rather humbling experience to watch monstrous cargo ships pass through the Canal.
Casco Viejo is a neighborhood bursting with history and culture. The ruins of once great buildings allow you to picture Casco Viejo of the past. Local artists sell their wares in plazas and cafeterias serve up heaping plates of fried plantains, rice and chicken. Avenida Central is a bustling street filled with shops selling everything your heart desires. You can easily spend a day exploring Casco Viejo and the surrounding areas.
Want to improve your Spanish while traveling? Casco Antiguo Spanish School is located around the corner from Luna’s and offers classes to fit the backpacker budget. Their half-day Backpacker’s Spanish class is only $39 and helps you learn necessary phrases to help make day to day life in Latin America easier.
Weather you are here for a week or a month you should dedicate at least a few hours to learn Spanish in Panama. Being able to communicate on even the most basic level enriches your travel experience as a whole. No matter where your travels lead you learning Spanish in Panama will create another amazing memory.
The Casco Anitugo Spanish School offers each new guest here at Luna’s Castle a free one hour Spanish class! Located a mere 5 minute walk from Luna’s in the heart of Casco Viejo. Their offices are nestled in the Santa Familia building on the edge of the bay with beautiful views of the Amador Causeway and a cool sea breeze perpetually flows through the classrooms.
But the Casco Antiguo Spanish School has much more to offer than just Spanish Classes. They are partnered with many local NGO’s and have volunteer opportunities doing everything from teaching dance to gardening and helping at an animal shelter. The Casco Antiguo Spanish School offers tours through local tour companies at a deeply discounted rates, sure to make every backpacker’s wallet happy. Their conversational approach allows you to truly learn Spanish rather than just conjugate verbs.
Their experienced teachers and in house developed curriculum makes learning Spanish in Panama a breeze. For more information email email@example.com or visit www.cascospanish.com. Swing by their offices off Avenida A and Calle 4 and make your memory of learning Spanish in Panama.
You find yourself with a day or two to kill in Panama City and have no idea with direction to go. There is so much to see and you’re lacking direction! To wander Casco Viejo and take in the sighs, visit Avenida Central and do some shopping, walk the Cinta Costera towards the looming skyline or simply kick back and enjoy the cool breeze that blows in off the bay. One of my favorite places in Panama City is the fish market at the beginning of the Cinta Costera. “El Mercado de Mariscos” rests just down the ramp and around the curve from Luna’s Castle. Full of activity, culture and food what is there not to love? You can purchase everything from shrimp and octopus to tuna and sea bass. The season and migration of fish effect what is available but you can always get something tasty to cook up for dinner! You can get shrimp for about $4 a pound and when the season is right, you can get beautiful tuna for about $2 a pound! The largest and freshest selection in Panama City; be sure to snag yourself a tasty treat! Every vendor will tell you they have the freshest fish, caught that morning. But, how do you tell if your fish is fresh? The old wives tale about clean smelling fish is true! If it smells fishy, steer clear! However, in a giant building filled with fish it’s hard for it to not smell fishy! Make sure that the eyes of the fish are clear, not milky and that the flesh feels firm to the touch! Also, the earlier you get there the better. All the fish comes in before the sun rises! Most locals go between 4 and 7 am. Undoubtedly my favorite part of the fish market is the ceviche! You can buy a Styrofoam cup of fresh tangy fishy goodness for a buck or two depending on the variety. Most of the locals favor the Corvino (sea bass) but the shrimp and octopus are my favorite! I often eat my ceviche in the shade of the tree in front of Luna’s, with corn chips and a cold Squirt! Upstairs from the fish market is a hidden gem of a restaurant! You can purchase your fish downstairs at the market and have them cook it for you. They will prepare the fish anyway you like; I suggest buying Corvino and having them fry it whole. The service, food and prices are excellent! Be sure to bring your best Spanish skills to the market because none of the vendors speak English and many are quick the throw slang into the conversation!!
Getting people to go to bed early is definitely not our specialty here at Luna’s Castle. On the contrary, we got breakfast going till noon because we know partying is our forté.
Tuesday nights in Panama City are not particularly the best days to go clubbing. However, here at Luna’s we always got a trick up our sleeve: The Chiva Parrandera.
Especially popular for Panamanian Birthday and graduation celebrations, Chivas in Panama are nothing like the ones a few other countries have. Panamanian chivas have evolved passed the original concept of musicians playing tipico music on an open air bus.
The Chiva of today is a mobile capsule of electronic music, reggaeton, and other modern beats. With an open bar inside that keeps on flowing, air-conditioning so that the hot and humid nights don’t interfere with the raucous, laser lights to accompany the fascinating view of Panama city’s skyline, and stripper poles because you gotta grab onto something when your dancing on a moving bus.
Our bus is open to all travelers and Panamanians alike who don’t want to have to wait for a friends birthday to get down like they should.
Is it Tuesday? Come to reception, reserve, and enjoy!
More than the fascination provoked by its walls, balconies, and coastline, Casco Viejo shows her visitors the distant poles of the multicultural city of Panama. There is no exception. Casco has it all.
From the maximum security provided by the presidential police (officers in the dark grey uniforms with red berets), to the dangers of the neighboring districts of Chorillo and Santa Ana, the Casco is north and south in itself, where people breath a different breeze from that of the noisy financial center. The Casco doesn’t leave anyone out: foreign investors, descendants of the original residents, intruders, diplomats, artists, and of course backpackers.
Only Luna’s Castle is a microcosm of this mosaic; through the breakfast table window one can observe two contrasting scenes, to the left there is the luxurious hotel Las clemintinas and in the other corner our neighbors: a run down building habitated by 3 generations of Panamanians who love salsa music, el vallenato, birthday parties, and are always ready to scream “Goooooooooooooooooooool” if the particular Panamanian or favorite Spanish league football team allows the opportunity. Meanwhile just in front of the hostel the Panamanian and united kingdom flags wave above the luxurious Meredith Mansion, which used to be a cemetery and catholic convent.
And ao this general pattern of social classes repeats itself street by street in the Casco. All the contrasting human ecosystems living together in a harmony that took quite some time to achieve, and now is the overall attraction of the area.
In the same manner, the neighborhood cuisine is a loyal representative of those who inhabit it. The options are just as varied in price, and they don’t disappoint regardless of how expensive. For example, the abundant Avenida central, just 2 blocks from the hostel we find this place where the porsions of food are massive for around $1.75. On the other hand, just a jog across the street, in Puerta de Tierra a dinner can cost $175 if you get a bit carried away with the wine.
Ceviche for $10.00 in plaza Bolivar, ceviche for a dollar at the fish market.
The Casco is everything bundled into one.
The only thing clear about your plan up to this moment is that you want to have a good time with no strings attached. Its your vacation, the trip of a lifetime, the adventure after military service, or perhaps either your first or last stop in central America.
All kinds of questions pop into your head… you need someone to give you a little push, you look around and there they are, sitting behind the reception desk. They like to travel just like you, they welcomed you in, and now they are going to help you resolve any pending details about your stay in Panama. The Luna’s Castle Receptionist, a walking book.
Even in a castle the receptionists try to have a response to any possible question you might have. Here in panama the answers generally have to be reinvented on a daily basis. No other city in Central America changes constantly like ours does, at least not at the same rate as the last 10 years.
Even though the city continuously grows, as Panamanians, we maintain a few traditions; something remarkable for example is that our addresses are always based on points of reference: A building (which may or may not still exist), a store, a tree, or even a particular incident that occurred in the location your trying to explain. Very few streets are marked with signs. Thus, don’t be surprised when the directions to our nearest supermarket also mention three other places before arriving at your destination (while completely excluding all building numbers and street names).
In addition, even though the climate has some consistancies in the city, it changes, and can even be a bit deceiving. For that reason, a weather related question is one of the most difficult for us to answer.
“I’m Going to San Blas. How will the weather be?”
Its been more than once that we look the weather up on the internet only to find something entirely different than reality.
“When does the bus leave for the airport?”
“Weeeellll… the city bus routes have no schedule but there should be one passing every 40 minutes or so.”
“What nightclub is good to go to on a Tuesday night?”
“Besides our very own Relic Bar? Well, you could walk along Calle Uruguay to see what you find”
Panamanian nightlife is just as unpredictable as the weather, with the exception being the days surrounding payday.
So while on occasion we won’t have all the answers to what seem like simple and reasonable questions. We will always be happy to help you decipher the secret codes of our city. And of course we will always give you that extra piece of advice (warning, map, note, etc.) that can complete your adventure.