All posts filed under: Culture

Bogotá, la bonita

We spent Easter in Bogotá, the capital and largest city of Colombia. With a population of 11 million, the metropolis spans over 600 square miles and is the third highest capital in South America (at 6,880 ft above sea level). Despite having certain architectural resemblances with Panama City (mostly the colonial buildings in La Candelaria being similar to those found in our Casco Antiguo), these two capitals of neighboring countries are worlds apart – economically, geographically and culturally speaking. Now, can we skip all the nonsense and get to what’s really important? The food! Yes, the rumors are true – Bogota’s restaurant scene, from the traditional cuisine to the gourmet international presence, did not disappoint. In fact, it was probably the highlight of our trip, with us taking turns each day in choosing restaurants (trust me, it was harder than you’d think – so many options!). A nature lover, I was positively overwhelmed by the amount of green spaces in Bogotá. Of course, even from the plane, the surrounding Eastern range of the Andes Mountains …

Bay City

I had been dreaming of visiting San Francisco for years; everything from its rich history to its parks, landmarks and especially the nearby wine country had made me enthusiastic about a possible trip. Panama played an important role in the California Gold Rush, the Panama Railroad being one of the preferred routes for those traveling into California, as opposed to the hazardous journey across the continental United States. (Now we have the Panama Canal). In 2015 I watched The Age of Adaline, a beautiful movie starring Blake Lively, and the images of Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the spectacular scenery of Marin County portrayed in the film induced an even more overwhelming desire in me to visit this city in Northern California. It’s hard to explain but deep inside I knew I would love it there, and coincidentally, my mom called me in late 2015 wanting to plan a family trip over New Years. When she suggested San Francisco, I said that’s the one. There are a few direct flights from Panama City to SFO; …

You Are My Witnessess

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum tells a story that is not alien or unknown to us. And while may have studied the historical facts surrounding the events of World War II, the exhibitions at the USHMM are shocking. Once inside the museum, a sequence of emotions hits you all at once. For me, it was anger, sadness, and aching. I was there last summer, and I remember feeling the discomfort even in my bones. I was recently invited to the screening of a movie here in Panama. Denial (2016), directed by Mick Janson and starring Rachel Weisz, tells the story of professor Deborah Lippstadt who is sued for libel by a Holocaust denier. I must admit, prior to watching this film I had never heard of such thing as a Holocaust denier and can not believe they even existed (exist?). The film is great, by the way: well acted, intense, and effective at delivering the message of the importance of truth and justice. It was screened at a local theater, organized by the Friends of Yad Vashem. One …

Pretty Streets: Georgetown, DC

It will soon be a year from my last visit to Washington DC. Spring in that city is truly magical, and the thought of the possibility of moving there this Fall is exciting. The colorful houses on Georgetown, all of the free museums, the vast presence of embassies and NGOs, the diversity of people, the political awareness and intellectual conversations, the variety of restaurants… there are simply enough reasons to help get me up each morning in the District… and I have not even mentioned the cupcakes. Here’s a collection of photos from my last trip to D.C. I was just there for three and a half days, and though it seems quite short looking back, I really did squeeze in as much as I could. I had wanted to go to The Holocaust Memorial Museum for years now, so that of course was my first stop. Another highlight was the food, some of the best restaurants I’ve been in the whole world are in D.C.: José Andrés’ Mediterranean Zaytinya; Fiola Mare, Italian seafood with …

La Ville De Lumiere – Paris, Part 2

MUSÉE DU LOUVRE The Louvre Palace was built around 1190 as a fortress by King Philippe Auguste’s engineers to protect Paris from invaders. The Louvre remained a fortress until the reign of François I, when the King wanted to regain control of the capital and decided to make the Louvre his main residence. The Louvre underwent extensive renovations during the reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XI; however, the later moved to Versailles and the Louvre was abandoned for nearly a century. By the late 1800s, the Louvre had become a site dedicated to arts and sciences, and during the French Revolution, officially opened as a museum to the public. World-famously known for its glass pyramid, this was the latest addition designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei in 1989. My day began early – I would be visiting the Louvre by myself (as many people recommended). I bought tickets online the night before, which made my waiting time a quarter of everyone else’s. Map and camera in hand, I was ready for my adventure through …

La Ville De Lumiere – Paris, Part 1

I had dreamed of visiting Paris since I was a little girl. Movies, TV shows, novels, and even non-fiction textbooks read in high school had filled my mind with images of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris is a long (and expensive) way from Panama City; it took me exactly twenty-two years to find myself strolling through the romantic streets of the city of lights, and I felt completely enamored with the culture, architecture, and gastronomy of this place. One of my best friends studies in Paris, and I stayed six fantastic-yet-short days with her. Helena lives in the most charming apartment in the 6th arrondisement. Down her street, Rue Mazarine, is the world famous École des Beaux-Arts de Paris (National School of Fine Arts). A quick twelve-minute walk across the Seine, and you’re at the Louvre. From her living room window, you can see the tip of the Eiffel. I WAS IN HEAVEN. There is truly just something about Paris. From Helena’s window, the chimney pots that adorn the …

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa is a 13th century inspired Italian castle located in Calistoga, California. It was an awfully cold morning when my family and I pulled up at the magnificent 30 acre vineyard, after a twenty minute drive from our hotel in downtown Napa. Once inside, we signed up for the guided tour and premium wine tasting which was lead by a nice, young man – Tomaso, who spoke enthusiastically for more than two hours with his thick Italian accent. Tomaso began by giving us some historical facts of Castello di Amorosa, most specifically, of its owner Dario Sattui. Sattui grew up in San Francisco, and is the grandson of wine pioneer Vittorio Sattui. Dario was fascinated by the wine making process and purchased over a hundred acres of land in Calistoga over 25 years ago. He had a vision of creating a beautiful Italian-inspired winery. Today, Castello di Amorosa is an architect’s dream and can even be booked for weddings and other events. It’s hard for me to imagine a more dreamlike wedding location! …

Island of Flowers

Only 20 km from Panama City, and nicknamed the island of flowers, Taboga Island is truly a charmer, and a must for anyone visiting the country.  There are several different ferry companies taking you from the port in Amador to Taboga and back; for my last visit there I took the Calypso ferry departing at 9:30 a.m which is only $20 round trip. It’s a thirty minute ride passing next to enormous cargo ships that are on their way to the Atlantic Ocean through the Panama Canal. Quicker than you realize, you arrive at Taboga Island: colorful, friendly, and truly relaxing. When I was kid, I frequented Taboga with my family a lot; its proximity to the city really makes it the perfect weekend getaway. However, if you’ve only got a day to spend, Taboga is also perfect  since its area is under 5 square miles. (Happy Tiki tip: try to avoid Sundays and weekends/holidays in general if you can, some of the beaches can get really crowded!) The houses in Taboga are colorful with bougainvilleas growing against …

Tropical Geometry

Tógo is a lovely boutique bed and breakfast located in Panama’s Pacific coast, with the most lush and tropical interior decoration. I have been there twice, it is one of my father’s favorite places to stay when looking for some peace and tranquility close to the sea. Panama City gets hectic, but we are lucky to have paradisiacal, turquoise beaches just an hour’s away. The B&B is colorfully decorated, with yellow and green couches, pillows made out of “Molas” (hand stitched embroidery designed by the Kuna Yala indigenous community), dozens of little Panamanian ornaments hanged on the walls, and the most vibrant paintings. Tógo is also home to five pets: two dogs and three cats, which get along “just fine”. Breakfast is a bowl of fresh fruit (pineapple, watermelon, papaya, and banana), followed by warm bread and home-made marmalade (raspberry or grape – your pick), eggs to your taste, and pancakes if you wish. If you are not sold yet, scroll through the photos I took of this tropical haven – opened in 2009 – and its …