Panama City’s History & Culinary Highlights (Shore Excursion)
You will be picked up at the cruise port by your guide. Your first stop is Casco Antiguo, Panama City’s colonial neighbourhood. In 1673, after the devastating pirate attack, Panama City was moved some 7.5 km West, to a small peninsula at the foot of Ancon Hill, closer to the islands that were used as safe ports and near the mouth of a river that eventually became the Pacific access to the Panama Canal. The relocated town, known today as Casco Viejo not only had better access to fresh water but could be fortified. The military engineers took advantage of the morphological conditions of the area and complemented them with a wall surrounding the peninsula, all of which prevented direct land and naval approaches by an enemy.
Your charming local chef will host you in her cooking studio where you will learn about Panama and its traditional cuisine while preparing delicious dishes that you will get to enjoy at the end of the class. The menu varies constantly to include the seasonal fruits and vegetables perfect for the 3-course meal you will be preparing. During this 3-hour hands-on cooking experience, you will be immersed in authentic Panamanian cuisine and learn how to prepare traditional recipes and dishes just as your local chef’s grandma has been taught, for example, empanadas, ceviche, carimañolas, tamales, arroz con pollo, pescado al escabeche, coconut rice, saltfish fritters, curry seafood, stewed chicken/pork/beef, sweet plantain, coconut sweets, flan, mamallena, among others!
After enjoying your homemade Panamanian lunch, continue with your guide to the ruins of Panama Viejo (the old city). Panama City is the oldest European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. It was founded in 1519 as a consequence of the discovery of the “South Sea” in 1513 by Vasco Núñez de Balboa. The remains of the original Spanish colony (known as the Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo) include the Pre-Columbian vestiges of the Cuevan aboriginal occupation of the same name and currently encompass a UNESCO-protected heritage site covering 32 hectares. The settlement was a first-rank colonial outpost and seat of a Royal Court of Justice during the 16th and 17th centuries when Panama consolidated its position as an intercontinental hub. Its growth in importance, as it profited from the imperial bullion lifeline, is reflected by the imposing stone architecture of its public and religious buildings. During its 152 years of existence, the town experienced slave rebellions, fires, and an earthquake, but was destroyed in the wake of a devastating attack in 1671 by pirate Henry Morgan. You will be dropped off at your cruise ship late afternoon.