Unfortunately i did not have a lot of time for Sightseeing because i was busy working & – yes i admit – shopping!
I still made it to “Las Ventas”, the biggest Bullfight Arena in Europe and the third biggest in the world after Mexico and Valencia. The Tour takes around 30 min- l hour. Read & see more here: http://www.crazy-tripz.com/?p=1454
And of course i had to visit one of the most important Art Museums in the Wold “El Prado“. As we all know i am a little “Lowbrow” if it comes to Art, but now i can say: Check, been there, done it! The Museum is enormous and impressive. TIP for Art Fans: you can spend the half or even the whole day there! The Entrance is 14 Euros for Adults. You may rent a Audio Guide or a “real” Museum Guide.
If yo go by Metro exit @ Banco de España (the Red Line No 2). From there you walk trough the “Paseo del Prado“, passing “Plaza de Neptuno”, the “Ritz Hotel”, “Palacio de Communicaciones”,“Palacio de Villahermosa”, “Fuente de la Cibeles” and the “Congreso de los Diputados”. It takes about 10 min. The “Puerta de Alcalá”, “Plaza Independencia” & the “Parque del Bueno Retiro” are right around the Corner!
Missing an actual Bullfight is reasonable but visting the biggest Bullfight Arena in Europe “Las Ventas” is a “Must Do”. Las Ventas is the third biggest Arena in the world after Mexico and Valencia. It is one of the most important Traditions in Spain. The proud of the Nation!Bullfight season runs from march to october. Off-Season the Arena is used for Circuses, Shows or Theater – but still open for Visitors. The Tours takes around 30 min- l hour (12 euro + Audio Guide). Tickets for a Bullfight start from 5euros (Andanalas – seated very high and on the sunny side of the arena) to max. 150 euros (seated low, close to the Arena and in the shadow).
Make sure to visit at least the Arena. It is scary & at the same time interesting to look behind the scenes:
If you do have the chance to see a Bullfight – make sure you bring a white tissue! By swinging or not swinging the white tissue the crowd shows how much they like or dislike the Torero (Matador) & the Bullfight!
Cleary one of my favourite Metro Systems in Europe. The metro stations as well as the trains are modern and clean, fast and the connections are excellent. Indeed i have never waited more than 5 Min. for a train. The tickets are affortable (one way about 1.50 euros, a day ticket about 8.60 euros). WATCH OUT: the Madrid Metro System is intricate and has a lot of stairs! Some musicians make the metro ride more pleasant by playing live their Violin or Gitar in the metro hall ways! Have a great ride.
Attention German Speakers: Visiting Hamburg the Musical “Heisse Ecke” is a MUST DO!
They promote it as a Musical, but in my opinion it is more like a cabaret or comedy! Very Funny! The Play is shown in the famouse Schmidt Tivoli Theater located on the “world-known Reeperbahn”, the biggest Red Light District. Almost 2 Million People saw the Play since 2003. And still the Theater is always crowded and the visitors always amused. The Play is a summary (around 2 hours ) of the wild Actions on the Reeperbahn & the real Life behind it! Tickets are available from 30 -60 Euro -> it is worth the Money!
Panama’s Makeover: from Banana Republic to HotSpot !
“Witnessing Panama’s overnight transition from banana republic to middle-class retirement haven is like watching the Univision version of Extreme Makeover: it feels so tacky but you can’t change channels because you just have to find out what happens next.” – Andrew Evans, Gadling, December 9, 2009
Certainly the “Caribbean Lifestyle & Attitude” is very present in Panama. It is a matter of opinion, but for the good or the bad there is a lack of understanding for “long-term” and “sustainability”. It appears like Panama City has grown haphazard and unregulated. Still some kind of plan has to be behind it because the City has turned – in a minimum of time – into a international HotSpot for Low Budget Tourists & High End Clients from all over the world! Indeed Panama is not the All-Inclusive Vacation Destination (at least not yet)it is rather a Place for People or Companies with a special purpose like Investment, Business, Shopping, Party, Retirement or Adventure. Therefore the City is very international and one of the most attractive Places for Expats and Go-Getters! The Downtown Part of the City is relatively small but still there are enough Locations, Restaurants, Bars and Clubs to go out – from alternative to fancy. In general Panama is not very expensive: a Drink in one of the best Clubs is around 12 Dollar, Dinner around 15-30 Dollar.
FYI: I declare Panama as a safe City (just avoid going into a ghetto).
Panama is the perfect Destination for a City Trip including fabulous Beach Trips, great social & cultural Events and crazy Parties.
This App for IOS or Android is a “Must Do” if you do drive in Panama or in any other Latinamerican Country!!
This App is just GREAT! You do need to activate your GPS to use it. WAZE calls themselves “the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app.” Waze’s shares real-time traffic and road info (Police Checks, Construction, heavy Traffic Jam etc.)saving everyone time and money on their daily commute. Basically how it work: “An active community of Waze map editors works to constantly improve and update Waze’s maps.” Everyone are able to share information with other Drivers via this App. Good Luck & do not get caught by the Police!!
Panama celebrates its own “Carnival”! Like in Columbia & Brazil the Carnival is right before Lent (a Christian Festival) in February. Simlpy said, it is One Big Party for 4 days! People travel with their own Coolers and Liquid Supply from one Party to the other! Of Course Public Celebration, Parades, Games and other traditional Customsare not missing! My favorite Part: La Muchadera !! Check out the following Videos.
2. Mil Polleras en Las Tablas – The Parade of a 1000 Polleras
The “Day After festival” is one of the biggest Electronic Music Events in Panama. Famous Acts and DJs (for example DJ Tiesto) are arriving and celebrating with the wild crowd for 3 Days!!! The 2014 & 2015 it will be held at “Figali Plaza” (Causeway Panama City). http://dayafter.com
Panamanians always find a reason to celebrate something. But November is the Month of Holidays and Patriotism. “Fiestas Patrias” is one of the Holidays the Panamanians really enjoy. Starts on the 3. November (Celebrating the Independence of Columbia) until the 5. November! Sincerely speaking they celebrate like a Week! Most of the People celebrate this Holidays @ the Beach or Outside of the Country. At this time of the year you have a lot of Parades, Events &Beach Parties etc. A popular Destianation (especially for People under 35 years) is “Bocas del Toro” aka “little Jamaica”. Leave your fancy Stuff home, more than a Bikini and Towel you do not need here, it is Surfer Style!
Bocas del Toro Hostel
Bocas Del Toro Town. Pic: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/rupert-parker/panama-travel_b_2660775.html
Cheapest and Safest way to move around in Panama: Call a Taxi!
1. Radio Taxi or Easy Taxi
Yes….to answer the Question: Panama does have Public Transportation BUT i really dissuade from this. Panama City is not really big and Taxis are cheap. It costs about 5 USD (max 10 USD) to cross the whole city. The safest and cheapest way to move around the City are the regular yellow Taxis. BUT DO NOT take Taxi’s from the Street!! Call a Radio Taxi or use the App “Easy Taxi” (Download available for IOS and Android). My advice, if you do not speak spanish, use the App.
If you prefer it a bit nicer, use Uber. It is a Car Service: safe, reliable affordable. They Cars are nice and clean. You don’t pay Cash, the ride will be charged to your credit card (registered in the App Uber). To cross the City it is about 15-20 USD. https://www.uber.com
The Place is trimmed with Bars, Cafes, Restaurants, Event Locations, Hotels and Hostels. Great to be around Day or Nighttime!
My favorite Places for Dinner:
1. Grapes: Food and Ambience is excellent. The Local is small therefore it is always better to do Reservation. Dress nice and elegant! http://www.grapes.com.pa/grapes
2.Atelier Bistro Bar: Very atypical Restaurant. It has a very unique New York Soho Style“trendy & modish”! the Restaurant is a bit hidden and not really noticeable from the outside. It is above an Event Location called “Teatro Amador“. The Menu is short but exceptional for example Food Combinations like: Falafel with fresh Strawberries and Goat Cheese!! Delicious. Moreover they have a great Bar & a big Selection of Liquors. They have a smoking Area! http://atelier.teatroamador.com
3.Zaza: Zaza has a “hip”Bar Atmosphere. This Place is elegant, stylish and loud. The Interior Design: modern Pop. The crowd is mixed. It is a popular Place for Dinner & Drinks. The Food is pretty decent & the Drinks are wonderful <3 You should make Reservations, especially on the Weekends! http://www.zazalounge.com
My favorite Places for Drinks:
1. Gato Blanco: A Rooftop Bar with Lounge Style! Located on the Top of the Hotel “Casa Nuratti”. It is small and cozy with a great view over the City’s Coastline. On the Weekends they always have a DJ playing some “Electro Beats”. By the Way, the Restaurant of the Hotel is really good! On the Weekends they charge 5 USD for the Entrance. http://casanuratti.com
Gato Blanco Rooftop bar. pic: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g294480-d4590814-Reviews-Hotel_Casa_Nuratti-Panama_City_Panama_Province.html
2. Rooftop Bar CBP – Capital Bistro Panama: This is a more quite Place. Good for having a Drink and a nice Conversation. They serve a Variety of Gin-Drinks! They View is spectacular! http://www.capitalbistropanama.com
CBP Capital Bistro Panama Rooftop Bar
3. Open Rooftop BarTantalo: This is a Place for the Party People. Great Bar to “heat up” have some Drinks & Dance a little bit! It is always “loud and crowded”. Average age 20s- 40s. The View spectacular. The Drinks are decent. In my Opinion the Quality of the Drinks does not Match the Price Range! On the Weekends they also have a DJ playing. The Entrance on the Weekends is 10 USD. http://www.tantalohotel.com
Rooftop Bar Tantalo. pic: http://www.jetfeteblog.com/central-america/tantalo-hotel-panama-city-panama
It is the historic District of the City. It is small but very charming and Fun at Night. 1997 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNSECO. It has a unique European Flair – probably because it was build by the spanish Colonialists.
Casco is divided into two Parts. Today the commercial side, all rebuild & redeveloped, is filled with Shops, Bars, Cafes, Restaurants, Night Clubs, nice Hotels, Backpacker Hostels and historical attractions. A good Mix between Locals and Tourists. Moreover this is one of the few Places in Panama where you can move around by foot Day & Nighttime. Many Government Offices are located in this District and therefore you have Police and Security around. http://cascoviejo.com
1. Have a Walk on the “Esteban Huertas Promenade”.
You have a great Panoramic View on Panama City’s Coastline. At the same time you can enjoy some historical and cultural attractions like “Las Bóvedas”, “Plaza Francia” & “Galeria Juan Manuel Cedeno” http://cascoviejo.com/galeria-juan-manuel-cedeno/. Along the Promenade you can buy handcrafted Souvenirs from the “Indigenas” (the Indians or Natives).
2. Visit the “Mercado de Mariscos” the Seafood Market!
In my Opinion there is nothing special about this Place except the Food. Here you will get the best “Panamanian Ceviche” & other Seafood Specialities. If you like Lobster -> go to the Local “La Solución”. The Food is served very simple on plastic tableware BUT they have the Best “Lobster Cocktail” and “Lobster Ceviche” ever! It is all about the TASTE.
3. Rest @ “Plaza Bolivar”
The Plaza Bolivar is trimmed with Cafes and Restaurants. The atmosphere is casual and relaxing. Pleasant Place to have a short Break and enjoy a refreshing Drink. “Casablanca” is one of the oldest and best known Locals. They have an extensive Cocktail Menu – I love the “Lychee Martini” (in Panama it is called “Mamóm Chino”).
Plaza Bolivar. Pic: http://www.afar.com/places/plaza-bolivar-panama
4. Enjoy a Visit or Performance in the “Teatro Nacional”
Teatro Nacional is the national Theater build in the 18th century. Generally the Doors to the Theater are open if there is no Event going on. The Entrance is 3 $. It is a popular Event Location and definitely worth a visit – especially because it is rather rare to find “Colonial Architecture” in the City.
Many Metropolises already have a interactive Map for iOS Smartphones & Android for FREE. They help you to find your way around easier (especially if you do not speak the local language). The Maps will show and explain how to get from Point A to Point B by Car, Bus, Metro or by Foot.
Well, i thought all the Argentinians dance Tango. But that is a Myth, the “Outright Majority” does not dance Tango. Apparently “Tango Argentino” is a Lifestyle. Tango is a Expression of Emotions: passion, anger, happiness, desire, lust, jealousy, love etc. That is how I perceived the Argentinians – very passionate & impulsive!
Buenos Aires is called the “Europe” or more specifically the Paris of Latein America – supremely confident! A multifaceted Metropolis with a Latin American attitude. Every City District has its own Flair – modern, aristrocatic, ghetto, the industrial & warehouse part, downtown, the financial district, Bar & Clubbing area etc.
There are many Things to “do and see” in Buenos Aires. But of course as always I recommend the “Open Bus Tour” to get a Panoramic View over the City and get a Key Idea of Orientation. @ Daytime is is pretty safe to move around the City as long as you do not “show off”! Leave your Jewelry & Designer Clothes @ home. During the Day it issafe to use the Metro and Bus System (0,30 USD a Ticket one Way). In the Evening and @ Nighttime we used the Taxis from the Street! The Taxis are affordable. It is definitely an advantage to “speak” Spanish in Argentina.
Talking about Expenses and Money: As everyone knows there is a “Black Market for USD” in Latin America. The official exchange rate is around 8 -9 Pesos for 1 USD. The unofficial one is almost the double (around 14-15 Pesos for 1 USD). It is definitely cheaper to exchange Money in Buenos Aires and pay everything in Cash.
ALERT: Telling from my personal experience and what other tourists have told me: Be aware of getting “fooled” or “ripped off” !!!!
I personally think that a “Tango Show” is a “Must Do” in Buenos Aires.
You will find a Tango Show in every corner. Of Course most of the Shows are rather touristic but some of them are really good. Almost every Theater offers as well a Dinner before the TangoShow (Dinner ca. 1,5h and the Show ca. 1,5h). The Tickets cost more or less the same in every Place. I think the Dinner is overpriced. Just GO for the Show!
My favorite TWO: “Taconeando” & “Esquina Carlos Gardel Tango Show”
Both have a “live” Orchester playing, “live” Singer and great Dancer.
TACONEANDO it is a Place were you find real Porteños (People from Buenos Aires) and those who live Tango as a “Lifestyle”. They offer as well Tango classes. The Place is rather small and cosy. But the Ambience is sensual & intensive. Anyone will like Tango after that Show. The Price is 40USD. http://taconeando.com
Address: Taconeando | Balcarce 725 | San Telmo, Buenos Aires
ESQUINA CARLOS GARDEL is more “staged” and upper scale. The Show is “infectious”! The Ticket Price for just the Show is about 50USD. http://www.esquinacarlosgardel.com.ar
Address: Esquina Carlos Gardel | Pasaje Carlos Garde 3200 | 1023 Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires looks very European BUT it is still a Latin American City with an unsteady economic situation. On the Internet and in Travel Guides you find a lot of Stories and Prejudiceabout Porteños (the Locals).
To be very honest i felt very secure and safe in Buenos Aires although i was only traveling with my Girl friend Izabela. No matter what we kept to our usual safety measures while traveling.
1. Watch out for Thieves, Buggers, Pick-Pockets, Tickster & Motochorros
They have a lot of different distraction Methods. Especially the Motochorros are quick and hard to catch. Following Pic show a typical Motochorro Action:
2. Leave you “Valuables” in the Hotel (Safe).
Pickpockets is common everywhere in the World! Especially if you are planing to go out and drink: leave everything you do not necessarily need back @ the Place. No original documents needed: always carry a Copy of your documents with you (incl. a copy of the Migration Stamp). Do not show off: NO Jewelry or Brand Clothes! Just try to take enough Cash for the Night, Lipstick etc.
3. Stay in a lively Neighborhood: preferably in a Nightlife Neighborhood
If you stay in a Nightlife Neighborhood you can be sure the District is patrolled by the Police. Therefore you can walk around safely & drunk. Further you don’t have to take the public Transportation or Taxis @ Night.
4. Money & Currency Exchange
In general it is more convenient to travel with US Dollars (in Cash) to Argentina. Avoid paying with Credit/Debit Cards because you will be charged the official Exchange Rate (Oct. 2014 it was about 8,5 Pesos for 1 USD). The unofficial Ratein Oct. 2014 was about 14,5 Pesos for a 1 USD. You even get a better Rate for 100 USD Bills than 20 USD Bills. In “Calle Florida” (popular Pedestrian Zone) you will find many Opportunities to exchange your USD. Or ask at any currency exchange office for the “Blue Rate”. Try always to pay cash & pay with small change (less than 100 Pesos Bill) !!
5. About Public Transportation & Taxis
Taxis in general have a bad reputation in Buenos Aires. To many Stories of ripped-off Foreigners. Taking Taxis from the Streets at Daytime – if you know your way around – it is rather safe. As a Foreigner that does not know his way around (and is by himself) NEVER take a Taxis from the Street especially not at Night! Ask a Restaurant or Hotel to call you a “RADIO TAXI” it is the most popular Taxi Company in the City. Still always have the address and try to map pointing the way. Taxis are affordable!!
The Public Transportation – Bus & Metro System- is manageable and pretty safe at Daytime.
Porteńos (the Residents of Buenos Aires) are famous for their “Previas” their “Pre-Parties” with alot of Fernet with Coca Cola. Fernet is their national Liquor. Nightlife starts a bit later in Argentina. Dinner is around 9/10pm. Bars get crowded around 11pm. The Clubs open @ 2am!
Buenos Aires is very accommodating and relaxed when it comes to Visitors and Tourists. Most of the Places do not have a Dress Code. You really need to push the Limits to get bounced from a Dinner Venue or Party. If you do want to enter nicer Clubs a Shirt for Men is required.
Here my favorite Places of Spring/Summer 2014:
“Costanera Norte y Sarmiento” Here you will find a few Clubs around. Most of them visited by a young Argentinian Crowd under 30. Very Boheme Style (very common in Buenos Aires).
In the Summertime there is a great Daytime Party @ Mandarine Club called “PM OPEN AIR”. It starts @ 4pm! Great electronic Acts – great View on the River !
Address: Mandarine Club | Punta Carrasco | Av. Costanera Norte y Sarmiento | 1425 Buenos Aires VIDEO: MANDARINE PARTY PM OPEN AIR
PM Open Air Party @ Mandarine Club Buenos Aires
Tequila: It is One of my favorite Clubs around Palermo. The Crowd is “mature & dressy” (30 & Up). It is more upper scale. They usually open from Thursday to Saturday from 1 am. They say the hottest Women of Buenos Aires you probably find here!
Address: Tequila | Avenida Rafael Obligado 6211 y La Pampa | Buenos Aires
Freddo is one of the most famous Ice Creme Places in the World. We all know it is the Italiens that are famous for their Ice Creme but the Argentinians call their “Freddo” the Worlds Best! In my opinion it might not be the World´s Best, but is Pretty Damn Good. Even not for Ice Creme Lovers it is worth trying. You find it all over the City. http://www.freddo.com.ar
Buenos Aires buzzes 247! And “Palermo Soho” is one of the BEST and the most lively Neighborhood in Buenos Aires -> Day & Nighttime!
Palermo Soho is actually a great Place to stay because in this District you will find Everything you need: Supermarkets, Boutiques (with Clothing/Shoes/Music/Furnitur etc.), Art, Galleries, Restaurants, Cafes, Bars, Clubs, a Market with Hancrafted Objects and so on. It is a very Hip Area with a lot of trendy & young People (20s up – to 40s) hanging around. The Area is surrounded by Police Patrols therefore it is easy to walk around in the evening/night. Argentinians go out very late therefore most of the Bars and Clubs get crowded around 1-2 am. The Restaurants serve Food until 1-2 am. You find all kind of Restaurants around from Mexican to Japanese.
FYI: Monday and Tuesdays the Market and most of the Boutiques around are closed (I guess it is their Weekend).
Bars I recommend:
Frank’s Bar: You enter through a Telephone Booth. The Ambience reminds of the Movie “Public Enemy”. The Drinks are spectacular! http://www.franks-bar.com
Address: Frank’s Bar | Arévalo 1445 | Palermo Buenos Aires
Victoria Brown Bar: You enter this Bar through a Store. It has a very rustic, unique Design. It reminds a bit of todays New York Soho Style. http://victoriabrownbar.com
Address: Victoria Brown Bar | Costa Rica N°4827 | Palermo, Buenos Aires
La Parrilla “The Grill” is almost considered as a Religion in Argentina.
Argentina is very well known for their Food and especially for the delicious and inexpensive Steak and Wine. “La Carne Asada” (grilled Meat) is served nearly everywhere and for sure it is “Good”! The Portions are huge (avarage Meat Dish ca. 500 Gramm, ca. 8 -16 USD). I am not so sure about the “Drinks”, but that is a different Topic.
My favorite Parrilla is “La Cabrera” en Palermo. It is named One of the 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America. http://www.theworlds50best.com/latinamerica/en/the-list/11-20/La-Cabrera.html Everything is great about this Place: The Ambience, the Interior Design, the Service, the Prices and the Food is excellent! It is a good Place to go and have Lunch but it is also a very nice Place to go for a Romantic Dinner or a casual Meeting with Friends. Here you get Kobe Beef from 18 USD up to 50 USD! And they serve you all those little Extras (Paste, Vegtables, Salsas etc.).
1. Lunch Time is around 2pm and Dinner around 9pm. If you go @ this hour you should make Reservation otherwise you may have to wait 1 hour (very typical in Argentinian Restaurants). 2. Order one Main Dish and share (they serve a lot of Food in all the Restaurants). 3. Every Restaurant charges “Cubiertos” (an additional Charge for the Cutlery etc.).
TRY MATE! “Mate” is a very traditional Beverage – it is not a Tea – it is a “Hot Infusion” of dried leaves of the Yerba Mate which contains caffeine. If you prefer it sweet you can add sugar to it. Very healthy and very tasty. <3 <3 <3
Floreria Atlantico -> great Quality -> fair Prices!
It is one of the most hyped “Bars/Restaurants” in Buenos Aires. You will not find Tourists around here. It is close to one of the most expensive Streets the ” Av. Alvear“. The Best Hotel in Town “Alvear Palace Hotel” is located here as well. The Hotel contains a Art Gallery and private Collection.
You have to enter the “Floreria Atlantico” through a Flower Shop and then walk down the stairs. You will be surprised how lively it is down there. Stylish Music, hip ambience, great Service & Fair Prices! The Food – especially the Prawns & Octopus- is very tasteful and the Drinks impressive. Apparently Argentinians know how to make good Drinks.
Have a Walk along the Docks @ Puerto Madero at Day- or Nighttime
Puerto Madero is the newest Part of the City and the most expensive one. This Area is full of Office Buildings but you will find as well known Restaurants, a University, Museums, Hotels, Yacht Club, a floating Casino and some high-end Bars and Clubs.