Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day One: The Reunion

Day One involved actually getting to Panama and actually finding the people that were flying in from New York. Trust me, given how little planning had been involved with this trip (all we really had booked at this point was our hotel), these two activities were going to be feats in and of themselves.

Purvi and I were flying together since we both live in Chicago and were able to get on the same direct flight to Panama City. Amogh and Rahima were flying down together from New York. We were just going to meet them at our hotel, since our flights were only a couple of hours off from each other.

As Purvi and I were trying to figure out carpooling situations to the airport, we quickly started realizing just how different our travel styles are. Although our flight was only at 9 AM, I wanted to make sure we allowed ample time for traffic, security lines, etc. So, I proposed we leave our apartments at 6:00 AM... well, just in CASE! We were flying international after all- who knows what we could expect? Purvi, however, was all set to just head to the airport around 7:30 AM or so... when she shared THAT with me, I just stared blankly at her and was like "Okay, well I guess I can just meet you at the airport then."

I mean, 7:30?!?! It was 4th of July! How can anyone be sure that we weren't going to hit traffic or encounter some unexpected lines at the airport, given the holiday?

In any event, we ended up leaving around 6:30 AM... and got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Thank goodness- I'm a freak about being on time for things... early is more preferable. After hitting no traffic and no security lines (well, what?! Better safe than sorry!), we ended up being ready and set for our flight with a couple of hours to spare before boarding began.

So I overestimated the amount of time all of this would take. Sue me. No fret though- thanks to Purvi's status, we were able to make ourselves nice and at home in the airport lounge!

You better believe we stocked up! We had a couple of hours to spare!

Finally, though, the time came to board our flight... although there were a few fairly disheveled characters sitting around us, it turned out to be a fairly uneventful flight overall. Once we landed in Panama (!), we grabbed a cab from the airport cab stand and began our trip to Panama City... the reunion was imminent!!

Upon our arrival at the Toscana Inn (seriously one of the nicest little hotels ever), we headed up to our hotel room and were IMMEDIATELY accosted by... Rahima and Amogh!!! It has been quite some time since the four of us have been together (when we used to work together everyday) so you can only imagine the hug attacks, squeals, giggles and CHATTER that the Toscana Inn was immediately subject to.

It was seriously one of the happiest of reunions. The next couple of hours just involved some SERIOUS catching up (we couldn't stop talking and laughing... and sharing way too much information!) in our hotel room...

Before we finally decided we might as well begin exploring the city a bit. Keep in mind, we had no plan and/or idea of what to expect from Panama City. Good luck us, I guess.

Thankfully, the receptionists at the Toscana Inn are the most accommodating things ever (we became total BFFs by the end of the trip), and had some suggestions of things to do for our first night. So... off we went to Casco Antigua (aka "Old Town"). It was absolutely beautiful there... we quickly found out that the colors of Panama are so vibrant and the city has such a unique "character" to it... we had so much fun just wandering the streets...

 Stumbling upon a market...

Doing some shopping...

After going a little crazy at the hat stand (can you tell?), we ended up finding this restaurant that came recommended by one of our cab drivers - Diabolicos.

Here... well, we ended up just sitting around and catching up for another couple of hours. Can you tell this was going to be a general theme of this trip?

After dinner, we decided to head to this rooftop bar that came recommended to us by... well, by this random Panamanian guy that we'd run into on the street just prior to dinner. (It's not as shady as it sounds- trust me.) I mean, sure he works there, so he was all about selling it to us but... well, what can we say? He was nice and clearly a good salesperson. For four girls with no real plan... we were sold!

And we had absolutely NO regrets. This place was le-git. It was pretty posh when you enter the first floor restaurant, but you take that elevator up to the 4th floor rooftop bar and... you are in for a TREAT. It had the most spectacular views of the Panama City skyline- such an impressive start to our first night in Panama City. And let's be honest, the drinks at this place were DI-VINE. I couldn't believe how tasty and delicious they were! Mojitos all around!

All in all, I can safely say that Day One of our trip was one sweet success... we ended up heading back to the hotel and being in bed by like 11 PM (this is my kinda vacation!), but in all fairness, we HAD agreed we'd go out the next night... I mean, our trip was just beginning!

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