Panama City, Panama (5) – Casco Viejo

Designated as a World Heritage Site in 1997, “Old Quarter” is the historic district located on the southwest part of the city, along Panama Bay.   We start our journey in the late afternoon and continue into the evening as you will be able to see by the sequence of the photos.

A mixed blend of forgotten structures and upgraded buildings, they stand side by side each other.

One building is boarded up and the next one is festooned with lights and flowers



A neglected building



Neighbours visiting as the day cools



The remaining section of a 17th-century fortification.  This structure was part of the land-based defensive wall known as Tiger’s Hand.



Plaza Herrera



Plaza Herrera



American Trade Hotel









Ruina del convento de Santo Domingo









Cathedral Basilica Metropolitana Santa Maria La Antigua



Central Hotel








Panama City, Panama (4) – Parque Natural Metropolitano – Residents

Parque Natural Metropolitano is a protected area with the only wildlife refuge in the Panama City.  We crossed paths with some creatures on our hike through the park.  There weren’t as many as I had hoped to have seen but enough to keep it interesting.

Turtle Pond



We were fortunate to have a passerby point out the Coati in the trees, otherwise, we would have missed him.  Animals were hard to find.



Good thing I had my telephoto lens.  This little Inicio scooted into the thickness when we came too close.



Never stray from the designated path as you may step on these…Fire Ants.



All along this wooden border were ants working to their home destination.  The little green dots you see here were Cutterleaf ants carrying their load.


With a closer look, you can see various items being carried along this path border



Various samples of butterfly cocoons as displayed in the butterfly house






These were my favourite



Owl Butterflies love their pineapple






There were a variety of butterflies.  It was hard to capture a photo because they were constantly moving.


Panama City, Panama (3) – Parque Natural Metropolitano

We wanted to experience a natural setting of Central America without having to get involved in a tour group that would take us out of the city.  Parque Natural Metropolitano was a great solution.  Located on the northwest edge of the city, it is just over a kilometre from our hotel.  We would normally walk to this destination but with temperatures hovering in the high 30s, we opted to take the bus.  It was a good decision, the cool bus ride prepared us for the many hiking trails we walked.  The longest trail took us to the summit where we captured nice views of the city.

The following pictures depicts the thick greenery that exists and gave us shade.










A suspended leaf






Narrow, natural pathways



Part of the trail consisted of a wide roadway



Tree Farm



Tree Farm


At The Summit

Looking towards the eastern edge of the city



Moving clock-wise, just north of city central



City central, behind all those tall buildings is the Pacific Ocean (and our hotel)



Continuing clock-wise, looking south

Behind the white building in the center is Casco Viejo and to the right is the entrance to the Panama Canal.  You can see all the ships that had passed through or waiting to go through


A comparison of the thick jungle and a modernized city




Panama City, Panama (2) – Miraflores Visitor Center

Miraflores Visitor Center is filled with detailed information on the creation and development of the Panama Canal and Miraflores Locks.  Unfortunately, due to the lighting and glass covered displays, most of the photos would have contained too many unwanted reflections.  Therefore, I refrained from taking any in these areas.

However, the top floor of the center had a wonderful exhibit on insects that can be found in Central America.  With low lighting, I was able to capture close up views of this vast living kingdom.







Cicada Mania



The Rhinoceros Beetle are the among the largest in the world and can reach 15 cm (6 in) in length.









Green Katydid Bush Cricket









Topside of the Owl Butterfly



Underside of the Owl Butterfly



Panama City, Panama (1) – The Canal and Miraflores Locks

The decision to visit Panama City was due to our childhood fascination of the Panama Canal.  Naturally, it is the first post of our adventure in this Central American city.

Stretching about 80 KM in a north/south direction, Panama City sits on the Pacific side on the south.  The Miraflores Locks is located about 15 kms north of the city by Camino de Cruces National Park.  On planning this trip, it looked like the only way to get to the Locks was by Uber, Taxi or Tour Group.  However, with Rod’s smart planning, we were able to use the public system ($1.60 return each) and got there with no issues.

I don’t know why, but I thought there would be a line-up of ships waiting to go through the locks.  However, it was about a two hour wait before we were to witness the slow procedure.  Good thing there was an excellent museum and restaurant that allowed us to pass the time in comfort and out of the +35C degree heat.

Looking to the north



Looking at the center of the Locks.  You can see the different heights of the water.



Looking south.  Panama City is located to the left of this photo.



Eastern coastline.  The Locks are located to the left of this photo.



A huge neo-Panamax ship passes through a third wider lock.  This expanded canal was created to allow transit of larger ships that carry more cargo.


We finally get to see the procedure of a ship passing through.



You’ll notice the change in water level from the previous photo.



The captain does not navigate through this.  It was run by two railed vehicles on both sides.  You can see the tethered ropes guiding it through.


The precious cargo



Heading south.  Who knows where the destination would be.

It was about 30 minutes from the first photo to the last photo


Alberta/Saskatchewan Canada (1) – Highway 16, the Yellowhead

Road conditions on our recent return from Edmonton was fraught with icy patches brought on by thick fog.  Looking at the landscape, you see all the frost clinging onto trees and whatever they can cling onto.

The photos starts off outside of Edmonton, Albert and ends outside of Saskatoon, Sask.  I had taken these with my iPhone since my trusty Nikon was tucked inside a camera bag inside a gym bag located at the very back of the car.

















































Saskatoon, SK Canada (11) – The Halloween Pumpkin Patch

On November 1st, the public is invited to bring their carved pumpkins to Rotary Park to be part of a wonderful evening display.  I was amazed at some of the intricate carvings that were created.  It was gorgeous night and the event was appreciated by all.  Kudos to the Nutana Community Association for their efforts.








































Madrid, Spain (8) – Parc de Retiro

Because the return flights from the same destination are less expensive, we arrived and departed from Madrid.  I felt it fitting that the Parc de Retiro be my last post of our Spain Adventure.  The park is located just behind our hotel and it was the first thing we visited when we arrived and the last thing we visited when we departed.

This huge 125 hectares park has more than 15,000 trees with the Bald Cypress, one of the oldest trees at around 400 years old.   A favourite for locals to participate in sports, especially running and soccer.  The park is also home to architectural beauties such as Palacio de Cristal and the Palacio de Velazquez which are currently used for exhibitions.


Our first visit

After we had our jet lag snooze, we arrived at the Park when the sun was setting.  It was a short visit but enough to keep ourselves awake to get in sync with Madrid time.




On the south edge of the park, this pedway runs width-wise from one side of the park to the other.  Due to the small rise in this stretch, we found many runners making use of this challenge.  Our hotel is located just to the left of the bottom of the path.



Being February, the leafless trees still looked beautiful









Fuente del Angel Caido



The Sports area includes soccer field, tennis courts and basket ball courts



Our last visit

We start at the northwest corner of the park and wander through to the south end

The entrance at Calle de Alcala






Palacio de Velazquez



Estanque Grande del Retiro

We join the locals to watch the setting sun



Monument Alfonso XII












Palacio de Cristal






Heading back to our hotel to pack for home

Good-bye Madrid.  Good-bye Spain.




Barcelona, Spain (9) – Compilation

My last post of Barcelona is a compilation of photos that did not fit in any of my Barcelona posts.  They depict various sights during our four day visit.

A Bullring that is now a shopping centre



Entering the park at the Museu Catalunya



Providing a nice solo sax tune at the Olympic Stadium



A night view of the Arenas de Barcelona



The invasion of the green Monk Parakeets.  Originally from Argentina, they were brought to Spain as pets and started colonizing the city



A reflection of Cafe Del Mar from their overhead mirrors.  This outdoor restaurant is located at the Maremagnum Shopping Centre at the Ferry Terminal



The use of balcony space



Office building across the street from our hotel.  A combination of reflection and room occupation.



The Industrial Park located next door to our hotel – Hotel Catalunya (the tall grey/blue building)



A very busy Parc Guell



Waiting for the subway train at the Placa de Catalunya station



A school excursion to a live performance theatre



Huge bubbles at the Cathedral



Arc de Triomf at the top entrance of Parc de la Ciutadella



Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Catalunya



David Bowie and Salvador Dali…a suited combination



Shaded boulevard on Av. d’lcaria



A deserted beach



Looking back at our climb to Parc Guell




Barcelona, Spain (8) – Views from High Places

Montjuic Mountain ( Barcelona, Spain (4) – Castell de Montjuic ),  Mount Tibidabo ( Barcelona, Spain (6) – Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor ) and in our hotel room were the three high points in which these photos were taken from.  With a population of 1.6 million in a 100km square space, this city is huge and congested.  With so many multi-family dwellings, it would be hard-pressed to find single family residences with front and back yards.


From Montjuic Mountain, located on the southeast corner of the city

We look towards the northwest point of the city and go clock-wise

Mount Tibidabo



The small green hill is Parc Guell

Barcelona, Spain (2) – Parc Guell






Sagrada Familia looms large

Barcelona, Spain (1) – La Sagrada Familia






World Trade Center and Ferry Terminal



Shipping yard to the east



From Mount Tibidabo, located on the northwest edge of the city.

The following photos are looking east.  Montjuic from the previous photos is to the right.

Observatori Fabra














From our hotel, Hotel de Catalunya

Barcelona Sants, the main train station is conveniently located next to our hotel.  The station provides services locally and regionally.  We enjoyed watching the people coming and going, using the transport system as their daily routine.





Looking south towards Mount Montjuic, you can see the Tower at the Olympic Site

Barcelona, Spain (5) – Olympic Park



Night shot from our hotel room



Another night shot from our hotel room



Barcelona Sants at night still maintains its’ hustle and bustle