Panama – February 13, 2017
No big plans for today, other than “book day”. We want to get some books to read poolside and try to book some tours (the Gamboa guy owes us for not picking us up at the airport).
Calling Gamboa proved to be a pain in the ass. I don’t know if it’s a RIU Plaza thing or a Panam thing, but apparently there’s no such thing as charging calls (or anything else) to your room without a specified expense deposit on your card…and local calls are not free. To make a *long* story short, we eventually (tomorrow) would get things arranged for a couple of tours beginning Wednesday.
To obtain the actual books, we set out in the direction of the Multiplaza, a bigger mall than the other one we visited. We were walking in the right direction but weren’t sure of anything other than we were HOT. So we flagged down a taxi, which happened to be driven by a guy from California!
After a short drive to the mall (we had been close after all), we looked around for the bookstore. The cab driver knew of it and said it was on the second level. We wandered around quite a while before we finally found it, and it turned out to be really nice. We picked up three books, then grabbed a beer, paid with cash so we’d have small bills for cab fare, and headed back to the hotel.
We had a late lunch of leftover pizza, after which Lisa did some laundry and I headed to the pool area for a drink and to catch up on the journal.
In the late afternoon, we headed out for a walk to scope out some nearby restaurants for possible dinners. (It’s a little frustrating that no one puts menus out on the street down here as they do in Europe.) We stopped at a place called Beirut for a beer and to check out the menu, and decided to eat there tonight.
It’s a pretty traditional Lebanese restaurant—it seems none of the nicer or more touristy places actually serve Panamanian food—and I was in the mood for it. We started with a big combo platter which included hummus, baba ghanoush, labneh with olives, grilled pita, and a few other things. Delicious, as expected.
For entrées, Lisa got corvina (the omnipresent sea bass, but who’s complaining?) with tahini sauce, and I got lamb kebabs. Each of us got sides of almond rice and tabouli, which was heavy on the herbs and had little to no bulgur.
The house red was pretty good—no idea of its origin—and afterward I indulged in an arak (the Arab version of ouzo), which they poured in *two* shots over ice and only charged me five bucks. Just a touch rougher than the pastis I had in Nice, but if you love anise liqueurs as I do, you’d be in Mediterranean heaven. Just a great dinner!
When we got home, we were pretty tired and went to bed around 9:30…and didn’t get up until 8:00 or so.
(Hey, it’s vacation.)