The Westin Playa Bonita Panama Resort
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Playa Bonita Offers the Best of Both Sides of Panama
Just 20 minutes outside of Panama City, Playa Bonita is the best location to experience the sprawling city's urban excitement as well as its natural wonders. Hugging the Pacific Ocean, the resort offers dramatic views of ships lining up for the Panama Canal. Playa Bonita provides excursions to the lush Panamanian rain forest and the lakes and waterways that feed into the Canal, with Gamboa Tours.You can also quickly dive into the city, exploring Casco Viejo and the restaurants and nightclubs that never seem to close. The resort boasts six elegant restaurants and four pools. I loved the beach views but the rocky terrain and high waves make it best for lounging. I especially enjoyed the Oasis Lounge, where live bands served up an energetic supply of cumbia, salsa, and romantic boleros. The passion fruit mojitos were my nightly relaxation tonic.
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Slurping Down the Panamanian National Dish
One of the first things I do when I arrive in a new country is sample a native dish. Food is an important part of culture and you can grasp a lot about a place by tasting its food. When I landed in Panama, I knew I wanted to try the national dish, sancocho. I headed to Playa Bonita's Latin restaurant, Tierra Y Fuego, and ordered the dish without even looking at the menu. Sancocho is a comfort food: a thick version of chicken soup that varies according to the region. It's not typically served in fancy eateries but my waitress didn't bat an eye and presented me with a steaming bowl of sancocho. Lots of cilantro kicked its flavor above traditional chicken soup and local additions of yuca, mazorca (corn on the cob), and a heaping bowl of rice made it so filling that I didn't think I'd be able to eat for the next two days. Each cook develops their own version of sancocho and I plan to organize a Panamanian sancocho travelogue soon.
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