Countries 9 Hotels 33 Cars 44
Flights 20:flying time 59.34 hours
Rickshaws 4 Buses 8 Elephant 1 Boat 12
Cog-wheel train 2 Cable cars 6 Subway 8 Ferry 2
Minibus 34 Coach 2 Catamaran 1 Funicular 3
Pick up truck 5 Land Cruiser 8 Hydrofoil 4
Llama 1 Cycle Taxi 1 Train 3 Motorised Canoe 9
Canoe 2 Sightseeing truck 1 Sightseeing bus 1
Today is my birthday. I got the metro to the tourist ‘hop on hop off’ bus stop this morning, I had planned to do this yesterday, however the bus wasn’t operating because the newly expanded Panama Canal was being officially opened. The first stop was Miraflores which is the visitor centre for the Panama Canal.
I was quite lucky because there were ships in both waterways when I arrived at 10, the next ship wasn’t due until 2pm. Both ships were going to the Pacific Ocean. it takes between eight and ten hours for a ship to pass through the canal, which links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The little train like vehicles, they are called mules, running on tracks next to the canals are not pulling or pushing the ship, they are there to make sure the ship doesn’t touch the lock as it could break the concrete. Fourteen thousand ships a year use the Canal which operates twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year. The one millionth transit happened on the 4 September 2010.
All ships must have at least one canal pilot on board, some need as many as four pilots. The pilots have to climb up a rope ladder to board the ships to guide them through the canal. All ships have to pay the fees, by bank transfer, at least 48 hours before using the canal, fees are based on the cargo weight. The total fees just for today were four hundred thousand dollars. There’s a museum at the centre and a short film about the history of the canal.
I got back on the bus and took the rest of the route as it’s a good vantage point to see the city.
The bus tour finished mid afternoon and I went for a couple of celebratory cocktails and some of my favourite foods. The service at the restaurant was appalling, the food and drinks were delicious.
I ended the day very nicely by finding this delightful, quirky, coffee shop which had soya milk so I had a couple of soya cappuccinos, listening to the lovely music.