First I would like to express a special "Thank You" to gb williams and LN for their insight and recommendations that helped me plan my trip. These guys know Panama and we can rely upon their views and recommendations. Everything that we did on this trip was a result of Trip Advisor.
I served in the United States Army back in the late 60's at Ft. Clayton. I had never had the opportunity to return to Panama but really wanted to re-trace some very old footsteps and to see how this area had changed.
We chose to stay at the Radisson Summit and Golf Resort because of its location and recommendations on Trip Advisor. This hotel is not for everyone because it is about 30 minutes outside of Panama City. We found it to be absolutely perfect for what we needed. It is a brand new (one year old) facility close to Miraflores Locks Visitor Center and therefore very close for what was Ft. Clayton, now the City of Knowledge. The hotel is excellent in every way with large comfortable rooms. We were upgraded to a rainforest view room on an upper floor. The rate was less than $100 per night and that included a breakfast buffet in the mornings.
We found an english speaking guide on Trip Advisor to help us. His name is Orville Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org. We spent a lot of time with Orville and I would highly recommend him as a driver/guide. His rates were $11 per hour and he would pick you up at the airport and spend as much time as you desired. He drove a late model SUV and he was a very safe careful driver.
Orville took us to Miraflores Visitor Center, waited for us for 2-3 hours as we toured the center and watched a transit. From there we went across the street to City of Knowledge. It was wonderful to see what used to be Ft. Clayton where I had spent 18 months of my life in the Army. We found the exact building that was my barracks and took some photos.
From there we went to the old YMCA in Balboa. Again, a recommendation on Trip Advisor. Here we picked out some Molas to take home. I now have four of these Molas framed and hanging in my office.
Next to Amador Causeway for lunch at Lenos and Carbon. This is an excellent seaside restaurant with wonderful food. From there we went to Ancon Hill for spectacular views of the City and the Thatcher Ferry Bridge (now Bridge of the Americas). It is unbelieveable how Panama City has grown and changed. It is a very modern, progressive wonderful city and we loved our time there.
Then it was off to Casco Viejo. Orville parked his vehicle and got out and walked with us through the streets. This not only added a sense of security but he also shared the history of Panama with us and took us in buildings (the Church of the Golden Altar) that we would not have been able to see without him.
From there we went to Amador Mall and purchased some Havanas to take home to friends. We also found some T-Shirts and some Balboa Beer.
That was our day and then it was time to head back to the hotel. The next day it was just to hangout at the hotel and to enjoy the rainforest and golf course. Finally a great dinner at Barko's on the Causeway before headed to Costa Rica.
I would highly recommend Orville Kelly. He is a very educated knowledgeble person that after spending time with him I am thankful to call him my "friend."
Thank you Trip Advisor and again a special "thanks" to gb williams and LN for helping me plan a wonderful experience in Panama.