On Friday night around 10 pm, Tamara and Andreas showed up to visit with us, and we went to bed so late that we got about 3.5 hrs of sleep (BIG mistake!). Saturday morning we trekked south via Continental airlines. After 4 hours of being crammed into the “exit row” with NO extra leg space we made it to Panama City. Our airport experience in Panama was amazingly good – the airport is really nice, and most everyone was very friendly and helpful. We moved through customs quickly, and all bags showed up! Our Thrifty car rental counter experience wasn’t too great – our agent was stressed and spoke limited English – and we found out that our guaranteed GPS was not available. NOT GOOD! We only had a teensy map in our guide book plus a sad little map from Thrifty. The agent gave us directions in rapid semi-English and we had our rental car a half hour later. We left the airport, followed the verbal directions, and soon realized that we had completely missed the all-important turn! So we turned around and tried again. This time, found it and headed into town. Everything is SO green! The large city wraps around the coastline, and there are lots of very tall buildings with many more under construction. The city is quite stunning! We are staying in the Marriott in the business district – it is a beautiful hotel and is conveniently located. Unfortunately, most of the streets in the vicinity are one-way, and our map didn’t include that kind of information. We circled and circled until we found a route to the hotel. Whew! We were stressed and laughing by the time we arrived. Checked in and headed to the bar ASAP as we were REALLY ready for a drink by then. (We also agreed that it was a really good thing that we hadn’t imbibed generously on the plane – not sure we would have found our way to the hotel!). We had a terrific dinner Saturday night at La Posta (went by cab!) – ordering was a real challenge as the menu was in Spanish and our waiter spoke no English, AND we forgot our translator device! We understood a few words and made wild guesses – and fortunately did good on our selections. Then headed back to the hotel, listened to Christmas carol music in the lobby, enjoyed the beautiful holiday decorations, and drank a Bailey’s to end our 1st day!
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