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The sights and sounds of Panama City

I’m enchanted by Panama City. An incredible blend of old and new, an international hub surrounded by nature. The most pleasant surprise for me is there is much more to see than just Casco Viejo. But let’s start there.

Casco Viejo (also called Casco Antiguo) is the old part of the city. The colonial influence is quite apparent and this is the most obviously “tourist centric” area of the city. Beautiful churches, and a few small museums fill the streets with plenty of shopping and restaurants scattered throughout. With my guide I also ventured into the less glamorous side of Casco Viejo. “The projects” as he called it. This was definitely a rough part of the city and not somewhere to venture without a guide. Juan knows the area well as he and some other local guides provide services to the kids, teaching English and also working to bring the Colorado Rapids in to sponsor a soccer pitch for the local kids. His goal is to see just one kid from the neighborhood go to university.
Street Art in Casco Viejo
Street Art in Casco Viejo (Jess Heuermann)

The financial district definitely sounds less interesting for tourists as the name suggests, this is the business hub of the city. Being an international hub has its charms though! The restaurants in this area are a microcosm of what Panama City is today, an international meeting place. From Sushi to Korean to Panamanian to Spanish in this part of the city every restaurant is fusion. This represents the unique position Panama City finds itself compared to other Latin American cities. In this area you are also a stones throw from the ocean with wide promenades along the coastline for walking its a lovely place for a walk.

Within 45 minutes-1.5 hours of the city you have National Parks, the Chagres River, the Panama Canal - of course, indigenous communities and incredible biodiversity. A few days in Panama City is a worthy stop over if that’s all you have time for.
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