Day 2 of Grit & Glory Program

Now with all participants under one roof we're off to our first excitement after the morning orientation.  Firstly, our hotel is located in the most perfect spot at the entrance of the "Canal" with some breathtaking views of this one of the seven wonders of the world.   We visited the Administration Building, which has so much history of the canal to offer - the rotunda depicting pictures of the various construction phases of the canal.  The drive on the bridge of the Americas was incredible, it was saved as a surprise for the group who were all very excited.  To end the day with a drive through colonial Panama combined with the bridge crossing was the absolute highlight of the day.

 

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Itinerary

Day 1 - March 7, 2011
Arrival in Panama City.

Day 2 - March 8, 2011
Program orientation. Field trip to the Pacific Canal Commission Compound. Excursion to Casco Viejo, the historic colonial center of the city of Panama with site lecture. Two miles from the center of Panama City are the ruins of Old Panama or Casco Viejo, founded by the Spanish in 1535. From here, expeditions were launched to conquer Peru, Chile and California. In 1673 the governor of the old city ordered the city’s powder magazine burned in defense against the extirpation by privateer Henry Morgan. Morgan’s buccaneers sacked the city, but many of Old Panama’s buildings dating from the early 1600s have been reconstructed: the Town Hall; Bishop’s House; Royal Houses; and the Fort of the Nativity, which protected the entrance to the gold route. Excursion to the Panama Canal Museum, showcasing the American era of the Panama Canal. Excursion to the French Square, a monument to the French builders who began the Panama Canal. Lecture: The Panama Canal in the New Millennium.

Day 3 - March 9, 2011
Field trip to Miraflores Locks to view ships passing through the first series of locks in the canal. Visit the interpretive museum. Field trip to Las Cruces Trail, used by early travelers to California lured by the Gold Rush. In the past, Las Cruces Trail served as the primary artery for sending most, if not all, of the gold brought from the Incan Empire to port for shipment back to Spain. In many ways, the Las Cruces Trail of the colonial era was the wealthiest road on earth. At the same time, because so much gold traveled the same route, just about every enterprising pirate sought access to this trail. Excursion to the Chagres River, where early travelers would sail, then cross the isthmus before the canal was built. Field trip to the Lake Alajuela/Madden Dam. Lake Alajuela was “created” in 1924 with the construction of the Madden Dam. The dam’s reservoir maintains the water levels in Lake Gatun and provides primary supply of drinking water along the canal. Lake Alajuela is surrounded by a 129,000 hectare national park of primary rainforest. Excursion to the French Cemetery that honors the many lives that where lost during the construction of the Panama Canal.

Day 4 - March 10, 2011
Early morning transfer to port to board boat. Full day transit through the Panama Canal. This transit leaves at 7:30 am and heads out the Pacific entrance of the Canal, just outside Flamenco Island. Here you will wait for the Panama Canal Commission Pilot who will guide you through the transit. Follow your companion vessel for the transit of the Miraflores locks (by Canal standards, we are a small vessel, so we rarely transit the locks alone). The transit will take you through Miraflores Lake, Pedro Miguel Locks, Gailard Cut, Gamboa, and Gatun Lake. You will exit the canal at the Atlantic Ocean and dock at Cristobal. Throughout the transit there are numerous opportunities to see dolphins, birds, monkeys and crocodiles. The whole experience will take about 10 hours. Disembark in Colon. Colon Province was once known for its wealth, its seemingly endless supply of gold and silver. Here, Spain moved the gold it acquired from the Incans and prepared it for shipment back to Spain. The gold is gone and swashbuckling pirates rarely visit this province these days but Colon, the provincial capital, maintains a reputation as a place to make money. Until 1852, Colon was an island, but was linked to the mainland when the United States started building the railroad. Contemporary Colon is known for its status as a Zona Libre, a free trade zone. Next to Hong Kong, Colon is the largest free-trade zone and marks the northern terminus of the Panama Canal.

Day 5 - March 11, 2011
Field trip to Fort San Lorenzo, constructed in the 1500s during the reign of the Spanish King, Phillip the II. Site lecture: The importance of Fort San Lorenzo during the early years of the canal. Located on the mouth of the Chagres River, this Spanish fort was once a primary defense against English pirates. While the fort successfully thwarted some (look for a captured British cannon on the fort’s grounds), it is perhaps best known for its failure to stop the infamous pirate, Henry Morgan. In 1672 Morgan defeated the forces at San Lorenzo, sailed up the Chagres River and led his men to Panama where they sacked, looted, and burned the city. By the time they completed their raid, Morgan safely escaped with massive quantities of gold and treasure. Visit to the Gatun Locks, dam, power-generating plant and spillway. Train ride excursion to Panama City via the isthmus.

Day 6 - March 12, 2011
Transfer to hotel.


About

Holbrook Travel Destination Consultant and Air Specialist Bernadette Bernard shares her experience on the Road Scholar program 9901 Exposing the Panama Canal: Grit and Glory.

I was born and raised in the Seychelles Islands. I moved to the U.S. (Florida) in 1997 and ever since then I’ve been representing and providing you with dedicated service through Holbrook Travel. Travel is my passion.


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