Panama City, Panama: Part 1

I arrived in Panama City early to prepare for our mission to Malpelo Island without having been here before or knowing what I might discover. It has been a full week of sites to see, kind and helpful people, and great food.

Panama is a country of about 4 million people, half of which live here in the coastal capital of Panama City. It feels like two cities instead of one. The downtown business district has many skyscrapers and modern buildings. There is also the old town, known as Casco Viejo, which is full of historic buildings and churches, and there you have an equal mix of business and residential, with no sight of highrise buildings.

Casco Viejo

For the first few days of the trip I took the advice of many travel bloggers and stayed in Casco Viejo. This historic district of the city was built after the original Panama City was almost completely destroyed when pirates attacked it in the 1600’s. This area is very small with three main streets and only 10 to 15 cross streets. This makes it very easy to walk around and explore all of the shops, restaurants, and historic sites in just a few days. Some of my favorite places were;

Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesus, which is equally cool to visit during the day and after dark.

Baluarte Mano de Tigre

Plaza Herrera

The rooftop deck views from the AirBNB apartment (and the pool was nice too).

Breakfast at Super Gourmet – the Panama Jungle Pie and Pie de Limón are a must!

Lunch at Tacos la Neta

Dinner at OCHO Y MEDIO

Seeing all the amazing and colorful textiles in the many shops, the Panama hats (which are actually made in Ecuador) and all of the Mola art

The contrast of old and new; there is definitely revitalization going on here.

Mähälo – any time of day. Great brunch, lunch, juice, local beer, cocktails

The rooftop view and dinner at Tomillo; go at 6pm for the rooftop cocktails and sunset, and then go downstairs to the ground floor courtyard and bar for dinner

And finally a nightcap and dancing (if you please) at Pedro Mandinga Rum Bar