“A Day In The Neighborhood” Series
Once you have made the decision to move to Panama you will need to know where to go to satisfy all your daily needs. From the best grocery stores and work out places, to the top spots to meet people, dine out, and have a few drinks with friends. Panama is a new and undoubtedly different place than what you’re used to; those who move here with the notion that it will be “just like home” are not allowing themselves to fully embrace their new life in Panama and all the wonderful benefits it offers. To become acquainted with Panama and the lifestyle, you must truly be ready to open up to everything Panama has to offer.
An important part of moving abroad is the day-to-day lifestyle. For those who move to Panama with a blind eye, it can take a while to understand the ins and outs of Panama and its culture. This is the first article in the series “A Perfect Day in the Neighborhood.” We will use our current, intimate knowledge of Panama to arm you with the information necessary to best utilize Panama’s vibrant areas and their benefits.
A Perfect Day In The Neighborhood: Casco Viejo, Panama
Mornings are cool and fresh in Casco Viejo due to Ocean Breezes coming from all sides. Waking up before 6 and going for a morning
walk or run along the Plaza Francia loop is probably your only chance for tranquil time in Casco Viejo due to the amount of construction and renovation happening throughout the day. Most mornings your silence will be pleasantly interrupted by the sounds of the waves in the ocean, the birds chirping on the rooftops, or by the chatter caused when you run into some of your Casco neighbors also exercising along the plaza. Savor the morning breeze during your run or power walk, this is the best part of the day in Panama no matter what time of year.
If you have a roof top, invite some neighbors over and bring up your yoga mats and practice some sun salutations as the sun rises over Ancon Hill and the Bridge of Americas (this is a beautiful experience). Then, finish off your routine with a cup of strong, delicious Panamanian Duran coffee on your roof top or balcony knowing you started your day off in the perfect way!
As hunger begins to hit, mix yogurt, granola, and cut up papaya, mango, banana, and pineapple from the local street market into a bowl and indulge in tropical bliss (for one serving this will cost you less than $2).
A few hours later enjoy a mid morning stroll to one the Plazas for some people watching. Each Plaza in Casco Viejo is surrounded by monuments, restaurants, and interesting buildings. You will never cease to be entranced by the magnificent dilapidated and restored buildings that line the streets of this UNESCO world heritage neighborhood.
When lunch begins to roll around you have a plethora of good eats to choose from. If you are interested in a local treat, the “Chicken Guy” under a small covering next to the Teatro Nacional serves up amazing plates of typical Panamanian flavor; slow cooked chicken, rice, salad, and plantain all for under $3. If you feel like ingesting something a bit more familiar, a great place to meet and hang out with the ex-pat community is The Super Gourmet on Ave A and 6th Street. You’ll usually run into a couple of acquaintances that will keep you chatting for a while. The Super Gourmet is a great place to be introduced to neighbors and tourists by the friendly owner/neighbor, Blayne and his staff. The spontaneous encounter by friends in Casco is a great way to break up your work day and appreciate life in Panama.
There is almost always an event happening in the evening in Casco Viejo. To start off your night, stroll over to either an art exhibit opening at the gallery Diablo Rosso across from The Super Gourmet (where you had lunch) or to some live jazz music at Platea. Meet up with a few friends there and head to dinner at Casa Blanca (We recommend the chicken sandwich w/ side salad $6.25), then out for drinks and bar hopping at Relic, Mojitos, Calle jon del Gato, and some other Casco local spots. If you aren’t into the bar scene, Casco hosts wonderful cultural and theater events at the National Theater, close to Plaza Bolivar. Here you can indulge in some fantastic shows, from private musicians to sponsored events by different embassies from around the world.
Walk back to your apartment and end the night reflecting on your beautiful and unique day living in Casco Viejo.