Keith's Panamanian Travel Ramble

The wanderings of Andrea and Keith around Panama

Posts tagged ‘Panama’

On The Way to Panama… again!

Hello everyone,

It has been too long since I have been able to talk to you about the wonders of Panama so we will begin another trip there, shortly.  This time we hope to build a home on the top of the mountain overlooking Panama City on this lot.  I will be blogging the progress, just in case you are interested in what it is like to build a concrete house in a foreign country where you don’t know the language.

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It won’t all be work as we will have some friends visiting during our stay, so we will get to play tour guide to try to interest them in the beauty of Panama.  We also are planning a side trip to one of my bucket list locations, Cartagena, Columbia.  Here we will find a World Heritage Site walled Colonial city that I am dying to photograph.

This year, you can also follow us on Facebook.  Just search for J Keith Howie or click on the Facebook link in the right margin.  You can also find me on Instagram where I post some of my better images. Just look up @JKeithHowie or click on the Instagram link in the right margin.  Talk to you soon.

 

Matildo’s Junk

Hello Travellers,

Driving westbound on the Pan-American Highway between the towns of La Chorrera and Capira, a 45 minutes drive from Panama City, you can expect your attention to be drawn to a large collection of what some call “art” at the side of the highway.  It is the work of Matildo Escudero.  He calls his place “Trastos“, a Spanish word for “junk” because the place is jammed with discarded objects of all kinds that eventually become some part of the artistic endeavor’s of Matildo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a large whimsical collection of bugs, tin men, dinosaurs, birds, animals, modes of transportation and transformers (as in the movie).  His creations are large and small, intricate or simple.  If you look carefully you can often detect what the creation is made out of, such as the parts form a transmission or engine.  It is amazing stuff!

Over an hour disappeared here as we slowly looked over the creativity involved in the various pieces and tried to decide what they were made from.  I will let the pictures show you what I mean.

So the next time you find yourself westbound on the Pan-American and find your attention drawn to this array of junk at the side of the road, stop for a few minutes and have a look.  You will be fascinated, I guarantee it!

The Hazy Campana National Park

Hi Travellers,

Today was warm and close with a noticeable lack of breezes so we lounged around the pool for most of the morning.  After lunch we decided to take a short trip to some higher ground in search of some cool breezes.

Altos de Campana National Park was the first park in the Republic of Panama and was established in 1966. It is an important park as it protects two hydrographic river basins, the Sajalices river that flows towards the Pacific Ocean and the Ciri and Trinidad rivers that join the Chagres river which is a major contributor to the canal and provides the drinking water for the City of Panama.  The park is just under 5,000 hectares in size and is a one and one half hour drive from Panama City.  It has elevations of up to 850 meters.

We loaded our friends Shirley and Dave up and headed to the park which is about a 15 minute drive from where we are staying.  There is a stretch of the Inter-American Highway that is quite curvy for about five kilometers as the roadway descends to the level of the beach communities.  The entrance to the park is part way through this section of the highway.  It is actually  six kilometers west of the town of Capira.

Once in the park, we drove up the steep well paved road in search of views.  There are supposed to be good views of the canal basin and the mangroves at the tip of the mouth of the Chame River at Chame Point from the lookouts in the park but today is quite misty and there is a lot of burning going on in the area to get rid of dead vegetation.  As we continue our climb there are some spectacular views of the coast available.  Unfortunately my filters were not able to remove all the haze from the pictures but I think you can get the idea.

At the top of the mountain we came to a small well-kept town, Campana, and stopped at a fruit stand to buy some produce before heading back down the hill.

Have Your Dentist Pay Your Airfare

Hi Travellers,

Medical Tourism is a relatively new phenomenon that is becoming well-known.  Many people have heard of medical tourism but let me show you some really simple and practical examples of how it can work for you in Panama.

Everybody wants to travel as inexpensively as possible and we are no exception.  We love to travel to exotic destinations to build my image library so it is important for us to travel as efficiently as possible so we can stay longer and return sooner to another destination.  Each time we come to Panama we try to offset our traveling costs in as many ways as possible. It is an easy thing to do here because so many things are relatively inexpensive when compared to costs at home in Canada.

We always pay a visit to the dentist while here in Panama. At home a trip to my dentist for a simple one hour session of descaling and cleaning will cost me around $400. The last crown I had replaced a few years ago was $1,000.  In Panama, my English speaking dentist is located in a new modern facility in the Coronado mall, where the Super 99 grocery store is located. When I arrived for my appointment I was greeted warmly in English by the dentist, who led me to a modern well equipped treatment room. The descaling and cleaning process involved the same equipment as used at home and took just over an hour to complete. The work was done by the dentist, Dr. Wong, and not a dental assistant, as it would be at home. During the work, the dentist found a cavity which, due to its place, would need one of my crowns to be replaced. The cost for the descaling and cleaning, along with one x-ray was $50 and the cost to replace the crown was $450. The $800 savings is enough to pay for my return airfare to Panama from Calgary.

Eating out at restaurants here is always an interesting experience. Our preference is to try the local restaurants as much as possible. The food is always great and runs a little less than half of what it would cost at home. It is not uncommon to pay a little less than $25 for dinner for two including a bottle of wine and desert.

Before we came to Panama this trip, I had an eye exam that determined I would need new bi-focal glasses.  I costed them out at home and found that to get what I wanted would cost me around $1,100. My English speaking Panamanian optometrist, Boyd Optical, in the Coronado mall with the Rey grocery store, sold me identical lenses as I had chosen at home along with frames that were much less expensive. Total cost for the transition bi-focal lenses and frames was just over $250.

We are wine drinkers and love the wines you find on the store shelves in Panama.  The selection of Chilean and Argentine reds is to say the least, impressive.  We get some of them at home but the costs are usually in the $20 or more per bottle range.  Here, you can find a great choice of South American red wines for under $10 per bottle, with many under $5. It is a great opportunity to try wines that are a bit uncommon and pricy at home but are priced for consumption here.  In Coronado, we found the best selection and pricing at the Rey grocery store, although the new wine store also has a good selecction and is priced similar to the Rey.   We just don’t know about the Super 99.  They have a nice corner of the store with a smaller wine selection but none of it is priced.  If you want to know the price, you have to walk it up to a cashier who will scan it and tell you.  Way too much trouble!

It really is quite easy to save enough to pay your airfare or more.  It just takes a bit of planning before you come to decide what you can have done while you are here.  Give it some thought and maybe you can have your dentist pay your airfare as well.

Dare to Visit Colon

Hello Travellers,

No visit to the Caribbean side would be complete without at least some information about Colon.  Most guide books will warn you that a trip to Colon is an invite to be mugged or robbed and that you should stay away from it unless you stay in your locked car.  On the two previous visits we have made to Panama, we have taken that advice and steered clear of Colon but this time we decided we needed to have a bit of a look, at least.

On the way back from our trip to Portobelo a few days ago, we decided to take a drive through Colon to see how it was.  There was a not too current map in our guide-book that indicated that there was an area around the cruise ship docks that was relatively new.  We surmised that if it was a cruise ship facility, security should be a bit higher.  After all… what respectable cruise ship line would pull into a port and dump passengers right into a situation where they would be mugged or robbed?  We know that some of the Mexican ports have been dropped by the cruise lines just for that reason.  So logic suggested that if cruise ships are coming and going from Colon, the area around the docks should be a bit safer area.

So we headed for the area called Colon 2000 which is the gated cruise ship facility.

The first thing we noted about Colon is the traffic.  It is bumper to tailgate all the way into town and all the way out on the main drag which is called Paseo Del Centenario.  This street is divided with two lanes in each direction.  There is a generous median down the center containing lots of massive trees that provide shade to the traffic and small kiosk kind of businesses.  It is dirty, with lots of trash everywhere.  The buildings lining both sides of the street are old run down concrete structures around eight or ten floors tall, all in need of paint and more.  As well as heavy traffic, there are lots of people; some walking and some just hanging around.

The Colon city site is located on a peninsula in the Caribbean bounded on the west by Bahia (bay) Limon and on the east by Bahia de Manzanillo.  It is historically Panama’s second most important city, at the Caribbean end of the canal.  Colon is also host to the second largest duty-free operation in the world, next to Hong Kong, which creates an amazing amount of business and revenue for the country.  This area has long been neglected and has much fewer resources than the Pacific side of the isthmus, according to my ageing guide-book.  This city has a mostly black population as many of the canal construction workers, imported from the islands of the Caribbean, settled here when the canal was completed.

We continued our journey down Paseo Del Centenario to the end, which is the beach frontage around the peninsula.  Here we turned west and worked our way through less densely populated and more tidy neighborhoods until we saw a cruise ship above the buildings.  We headed toward it and eventually passed into the neat and well groomed place called Colon 2000.  This is an area with a good-sized multi story strip mall, featuring duty-free items as well as a not bad looking Radisson Hotel with a casino attached.  There was a cruise ship at the dock, but I didn’t recognize the name or company.  We know that some South American cruises originate from here.  There was lots of security and everyone seemed to be friendly, although if you’re white, be prepared to be stared at.  Our first stop was the casino, where Andrea found her favorite penny slot machine.  She sat for a few minutes and we took $20 home to pay for dinner.  We poked around a few of the stores and I tried to get to a higher vantage point to get some pictures but everything seemed to be locked off.  Oh well!

Well I don’t think I would recommend a stroll down the main drag, but I think that there are some areas of Colon that you could visit without taking your life in your hands.  We managed to survive our visit without problems.  You definitely need to keep your wits about you and be highly alert.  If you want to try something a bit different and are a bit gutsy, then this might be something for you.

Pizza in the Portobelo National Park

Hi Everyone,

We went to Portobelo, on the Caribbean side, a few days ago and visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the old Spanish fortifications dating back to the early 1600s.  Most people visit the town and then return to wherever they came from, but not us.  When we finished poking around the town and fortification remnants, we noticed that the nicely paved road did not end in Portobelo, so we decided to take a drive to see where it went.  Our guide-book was silent on this part of the world but the GPS seemed to know the road (from time to time).

Undeterred by such details, we pressed on eventually coming to a sign that seemed to show we were entering Portobelo National Park.  The road was a nicely paved two lane that took us through what looked mostly like cattle grazing areas.  The roadway was mostly flat and straight but the scenery included beautiful high hills to our south.  From time to time the road would wind up and over a hill or two.  We passed through a couple of small villages, with their brightly painted houses and stores, before we arrived at a small town called Puerto Linda, right on the Caribbean.  This was obviously a fishing town given the many fishing boats pulled up on the beach.  There are a couple of small hotels here and a restaurant or two it seems.

We were still not at the end of the road, so we elected to continue our drive along the Caribbean on the nicely paved road.  Eventually we decided that maybe we shouldn’t go too much farther so we watched for a place where we could pull over and turn around.  There was none!  The road is built up here and has large-sized drainage ditches along each side.  We continued for a while until we came to another village on the Caribbean.  This one is called Isla Grande, for the island that lies just off shore.  Here we found a parking lot and decided to look around.

It was a short walk down a house lined paved street to the beach.  Along the way, a group of young boys who were playing in one of the front yards, greeted us in concert with a loud “hola” (hello) that soon became “hola whitie”.  They were encouraged by our laughter!

The beach and coastline were beautiful so after the obligatory photo documentation, we got back on the road, heading back towards Portobelo.

A bit of research on the Internet tells me that Portobelo National Park is located in Colon Province, and is about 1.5 hours from Panama City. The park, which is 20% marine area and 80% land is 34,846 hectares or 86 000 acres. Portobelo National Park has 70 km of lovely beach front that is frequented by Panamanians and foreign divers. This area has a diverse cultural, historical and natural significance.

Anyways, on the way back home we decided we needed to stop somewhere for a meal.  Shortly after we had entered the park, from the other direction, we had passed a large newish looking building sporting the name Don Quijotes Pizzeria.  We decided to try it.

On arrival, we found the place empty of patrons but there were five or six staff keeping themselves busy.  They must do a decent take out business as we spotted about 50 pizza boxes being built in an adjoining room.  You pass through a wide arched entrance way into a good sized holding room.  If you continue through the next arch, you are in the dining room which is open to the hills.  The view is magnificent!  You look over level farm land to beautiful green hillsides.  While we were there, it was kind of cloudy but the light was shining through onto parts of the hillside, making a striking vista.

We ordered pizza, which is cooked in a wood fired oven.  The service was great, the atmosphere was perfect and the views were stunning.  Oh, and the food was excellent as well!  Once again we experienced a private dining experience in a wonderful place.  If you are ever in Portobelo, drive down the road a bit farther until you see Don Quijotes Pizzera on your right about 10 minutes after you enter the park.  It’s definitely a place not to miss!

This is Alicia… the Nurse

Hi Travellers,

We have this niece, called Alicia, who seems to have picked up our travel bug.  She is a nurse so has enough income to indulge her habit on a pretty regular basis.  Anyways, she was getting tired of the snow at home so decided to join us for a few days here in Panama.  It was her second time here as she paid us a visit on our last trip a couple of years ago as well.  It’s always fun to have her around because she is a sun and pool person so I have some company.  She also has an adventuresome spirit so we get to go to all kinds of places.

As a photographer, I always enjoy shooting Alicia because she is usually up for pictures and is comfortable in front of a camera.  She is, as I think you will agree, very photogenic.  Not often do you find people who have all these traits at the same time.  The first shot in this post was taken on our recent trip to Portobelo on the Caribbean side.  Note the yacht in the background that she sunk just before the photo was taken!

We decided to stop in to the Trump Tower, in Panama City as she had not yet seen it.  There is this little wine bar, very nicely stocked with lots of varieties, that we knew she would enjoy.  She is a red wine drinker and enjoys trying new and different varieties.  This wine bar is set up perfectly for such a person.  There is a whole wall of sampling wines.  You get a one ounce sample to taste for a small fee.  That way you can try several without having the problem of what to do with a full glass of something you don’t particularly like.

Drinking red wine here is a little different.  Almost nobody serves reds at the right temperature.  Because of the heat, they refrigerate the reds just like the whites.  Even when you see them take the bottle out of a wine cooler, capable of the correct temperatures, the bottle is served ice-cold.  It’s just how it seems to be done here!  If you drink it cold, as it is served, it will be a tasteless, lifeless beverage.  You just need to let it sit for five or so minutes and it will warm up to a reasonable temperature where the flavors are full and as intended.  Don’t let that stop you from drinking wine here because they import many very nice wines.  My favorites are from Chile and Argentina.  Look for Malbec, Carmenere and Mendoza grape varieties because the South Americans do a particularly good job of these and the prices are very reasonable.

The attendant at the wine bar seems very knowledgeable about wines and provided us a bit of information.  For a brand new wine store in the Trump, its splashy as expected but when you look closely there are a couple of things we found unusual.  They have a glass wall in this place that allows you to see into their wine storage room.  It has a very classy stainless steel racking system to display all the inventory but all the bottles are standing up, when they should be stored lying down.  Also, when I got into the storage room it was not temperature controlled as I expected.  I asked the attendant about the racking and he said that at the last moment, the designer thought it would look better to stand the bottles, even though they had specified otherwise.  He says that there is a temperature control system in the storage area but they aren’t allowed to run it because of the cost of the electricity.  Oh well, this is Panama!

After a visit to the wine bar, we went out to the deck on the ocean side of the building.  There are a couple of restaurants there with a nice view of the coast down to Costa Del Este which is a new part of town so we spent a few minutes with the camera before deciding that the menu was not to our liking.  It is a great place for photos anyways.

Well, Alicia leaves soon so I will have to get back to my usual subjects.  I have to admit though that it is nice to shoot something different once and awhile.

The Bahai Egg

Howdy Travel Fans,

This is the third time I have been in Panama.  Each time, we have tried, unsuccessfully, to get to the Bahai Temple.  Our first trip, five years ago, was without a GPS and we tried to navigate to it using a mickey mouse map from the car rental company and information from an outdated guide-book.  The Bahai Temple is located on top of a hill with a beautiful view of the city, valley and jungle around it.  On this trip, we could see the structure but could not figure out how to get to it.  After several attempts, each involving paying a toll on Corredor Norte, we gave up.

Our second trip, two years ago found us armed with a GPS that showed the temple.  We set out, following the GPS only to find massive amounts of construction in the area where we were trying to find the entrance to the temple.  Also, the GPS has a wrong co-ordinate in it so it tried to take us into a residential neighborhood in the opposite direction from where we were supposed to go.  We finally gave up but at least this time we were able to avoid paying extra tolls on Corredor Norte.

 

 

 

This time I checked the GPS, that had an updated map, before we set out only to find it contained the same error.  I have followed another Panamanian blog while here and they had recently posted a piece on the Bahai Temple that contained some detailed information about how to find it.  Apparently we are to look for a large black steel gate with gold filigree decoration.  Also, the signs that identify the temple access are small and close to the ground.

The Bahai House of Worship here in Panama is one of only eight in the world.  The Bahai laws emphasize that the spirit of the House of Worship must be a gathering place where people of all religions may worship God without denominational restrictions.  The Bahai laws also stipulate that only the holy scriptures of the Bahai Faith and other religions can be read or chanted inside in any language; while readings and prayers may be set to music by choirs, no musical instruments may be played inside.  Furthermore no sermons may be delivered, and no ritualistic ceremonies practiced.

 

 

 

All Bahai temples share certain architectural elements, some of which are specified by Bahai scripture. It is stipulated that an essential architectural character of a House of Worship be that it requires to have a nine-sided circular shape ( Nonagon ).  While all current Bahai Houses of Worship have a dome, they are not regarded as an essential part of their architecture.  Bahai scripture also states that no pictures, statues or images may be displayed within the House of Worship and no pulpits or altars incorporated as an architectural feature (readers may stand behind simple portable lecture stands). 

The Bahai temple in Panama City was completed 1972 and was designed by Peter Tillotson.  It serves as the mother temple of Latin America. It is perched on a high cliff, “Cerro Sonsonate” (“Singing Hill”), overlooking the city, and is constructed of local stone laid in a pattern reminiscent of Native Americanfabric designs.

The dome is covered with thousands of small oval tiles, and the entrance gates of the temple are constructed in a unique three-dimensional design each consisting of an equilateral triangle of three vertical posts with multiple rows of bars stretching between them at various angles, each row of which gradually changes from vertical to horizontal.

There is also great importance given to Panama in the Bahai writings – “You must give special attention to the Republic of Panama because at this point the East and the West are united through the Panama Canal and it is placed between two oceans: in the future it will gain most great importance.”

Also of interest to us is the use of the number nine.  There are nine sides to the building and there are nine entrances.  Each entrance has nine overhead lights.  The main entrance stairway has two sets of nine stairs each.  Nine is obviously a significant number to the Bahai believers as it was many years ago for Feng Shui in China.  While in China we learned of the importance of the number nine there as stipulated in the rules of Feng Shui.  Nine is the Emperors number and as such, doorways used by Emperors had nine decorative studs on them.  Buildings used by the emperor had nine rooms or, in the Forbidden City in Beijing, 999 rooms.  There is a curious commonality about the interest in the number nine.

Our trip to the “Egg” this time was successful!  What we didn’t understand is that the roadway up to the building is actually a narrow driveway, nestled between the SDS Storage and Turbotec businesses on Via Boyd Roosevelt.  Directly across the street from the driveway is Conway Design.  In order to use the driveway, you must be travelling southbound on Via Boyd Roosevelt.  The one lane driveway climbs steeply to the top of the “Singing Hill” and takes several minutes to navigate.

Once there, you are above the hustle and bustle of the city and there is an obvious serenity as you circle the temple, viewing the city below and vistas of the jungle and hills.  You are welcomed to enter the building, which is open and airy and has a simple shiny marble floor.  The temple is elegantly equipped with beautifully finished highly polished wooden benches.  Sit and collect your thoughts for a few moments and enjoy the breezes, silence, presence and beauty of this place before you continue on with your busy day!

The Beauty of the Caribbean Side

Hi Travellers,

Panama is the only place on the earth where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are just a couple of hour drive apart.  Another thing that will mess with your mind is the fact that the Pacific ocean is on the south and and the Atlantic is to the north.  We decided to take advantage of that and take a trip over to the Caribbean side to check things out.  Out target is a little town called Portobello which was a very important place to the Spanish, in the early 1600s.  Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502, he named it “Puerto Bello”, meaning Beautiful Port.  Founded by the Spanish in 1597, it became an important silver and gold exporting port, from the 16th to the 18th centuries, for plunder that was acquired by the Spanish throughout Central and South America.  Shipments were consolidated here for furtherance back to Spain and Portobello became one of the more important ports on the route of the Spanish treasure fleet.

With this kind of action going on, Portobello also became of interest to the pirates in the area and in 1668, Captain Henry Morgan with a band of 450 men captured it and plundered the city for 14 days.  In 1738 it was captured by the British who wanted a foothold in the new world and then recovered by the Spanish in 1741 (pay attention; there is a test at the end of this), at a cost of 18,000 British casualties.

Today, Portobello is a picturesque sleepy little Caribbean town of around 3,000 inhabitants hosting the ruins of several buildings and the fortifications built by Spain around town in various places.  In 1980 the ruins were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can see that restoration work is now underway.

Portobello is also the host of an important statue called the Black Christ which arrived here sometime in the 1650s.  While the details are a bit sketchy, it is known to have been carved in Spain, transported on a ship that was wrecked in a storm with the statue washing up on the shore in Portobello.   Many thousands of pilgrims descend on this small town every 21 October for the celebration and festivities.  The statue is carried from the Catholic Church around the community by 80 people providing a four-hour procession.

Or trip, today, was scheduled to avoid traffic.  You see, this is the last Saturday of Carnival and one of the busiest days.  As almost all of the festivities occur on the Pacific side of the country, we thought we would be able to avoid traffic by heading this way.  Sure enough.  The new toll road to Colon, accessed off Corredor Norte, was almost empty.  We made the toll road part of the trip in just over an hour before getting dumped on to heavy traffic once we were back on the normal roads.  You don’t actually travel into Colon but rather turn east just before the city.  Heavy local traffic eventually thins out as you get farther from the city.  Eventually, the road brings you along side of the Caribbean.

While there are some nice places here, generally speaking homes are not as elaborate or well-kept.  The beach frontage is built up with lots of homes including large, small, new and old places.  The beauty that may be missing from the houses in the area is more than compensated for by the natural beauty of the sea-side as we drive along passing small palm lined beaches and low bridges lined with kids diving off into the water of the rivers they span.

Eventually, we come to one of the forts of Portobello and park to prowl the ruins.  The landscape is a beautiful variety of greens with the Caribbean water showing its well-known aqua and green patchwork color scheme.  There is a large hilly island in the distance, perhaps a kilometer across the yacht strewn water.  The dark blue almost cloud free sky along with the aqua waters and snow-white hulls of the fleet of pleasure yachts moored in the area paint an incredibly beautiful seascape that is only complemented by the small pieces of history from the fort that I am able to inject into the images from my camera.  This place is drop dead gorgeous!

I admit to getting a little carried away with the camera here but I think you will agree that, just maybe, It can be justified!  Wandering around the fortifications I can’t help but think about what it must have been like when the Spanish were here.  The fierce battles, the blinding smoke from the cannons as they were fired, the stench of burning gun powder, the agony of the injured, the piles of dead bodies, the heat of the day on those heavy uniforms both sides wore and the deafening roar of hundreds of heavy canons seeking desperately to destroy their enemy.

The scenery would still have been as beautiful as today but as you walk the ramparts of this old fort where so many died in days gone by it gives me cause for just a moment of thankfulness that I wasn’t there during that time and that I have an opportunity to see such a special place today.

Punta Paitilla in the Empty City

Hi Fellow Travellers,

Today we decided to take advantage of a circumstance that doesn’t happen often here:  no traffic!  With Carnival in full swing and much of the city partying inland somewhere, it’s a great time to check out Panama City.  We headed downtown, being careful to avoid the end of town where the Panama City Carnival festivities happen because all the streets are closed and you have to follow some pretty creative detours to get places.

We decided to poke around the Punta Paitilla area of downtown Panama City.  It is a well to do neighborhood where the Trump Tower is along with a number of other huge residential towers.  On the way, we pass a very unusual and distinctive building in the skyline.  The locals call it the screw and it looks just like it.  I’m not sure how new it is but I don’t remember it from previous trips.

The buildings in Punta Paitilla are arranged in a kind of circle.  Each has it’s own distinctive shape and style.  All are well-kept residential towers.  We headed into the Trump Tower for a walk around.  We walked around the small mall on the lobby level and out to the back of the building, or water side to be more accurate, where there is a large deck and a restaurant.  The views are great and there is a constant cool breeze coming off the Pacific.

We heard that there were a couple of other restaurants in the building and after asking for directions, and making a round trip on the elevator which was the wrong one, we got on the right elevator and pressed the correct button and got to the restaurants.  There are two high-end restaurants, both of which would probably be fine but we were not ready to eat so just had a look.  I managed to figure out how to get outside, as there appeared to be a deck around the building.  As we made our way around the building we came across two small pools on different sides of the building.  I believe we were on the 14th floor or there about.  One of the pools was an infinity pool with a beautiful view down the coast towards the airport.

The views between the buildings are sometimes quite interesting.  Looking down the street, from the outside deck of the Trump Tower on the 14th floor, a banking complex is framed by two other towers closer to the Trump Tower.  It makes an interesting image.

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