The juxtaposition between old and new is quite interesting here in Panama City. The modern side of town feels like an American city which isn't that strange as it was mainly built by American companies before they withdrew control over the Canal in 1999 - and then the old town, Casco Viejo or Casco Antiguo as they call it which has a lovely mixture of Spanish colonial architecture and French and Antillean townhouses smartly blended with modern renovations.
The old city doesn't have as touristy feel as Cartagena's historic center, and people are in general friendlier, or should I say more service minded, than what we found them in Colombia. Most of the people you meet here does also speak good English which is a bonus for anyone wanting to visit from abroad. The prices for food, dining, drinking out etc, are much lower than in Colombia overall. In Cartagena, we were often astonished by how local restaurants were so incredibly cheap (sometimes $1.50 USD for a meal) and the modern restaurants held a price-level similar to an European high end establishment. It was confusing, as while charging that high, they rarely or never met the same standards in terms of service, ambiance and attention for detail as you'd expect from such a price. Here in Panama City, the difference isn't that large and you can still get away with an excellent meal in modern, inspiring settings in a world class restaurant, accompanied by elegance and attentive, smart service - for half the price of what we paid back in Cartagena. Things make a little more sense in this city. Not sure how long this will last though as new places seem to pop up rather often and more and more foreign investment as well as tourists are finding the city. But here's to hoping it will stay just like this despite the cultivation and development of the city center.
Actually, it is the first time in a long time that we have said, we think we could live here. That indicates how great the combination of things and events are in the city and its surroundings. The modern, interesting Panama City with fair price on living. Great wildlife around the corner and so many countries and places to explore within close reach. Excellent flight connections to Europe and the US. Friendly, smart people and there's that lovely feeling in the air, a keen interest and hunger for learning, developing and embracing something new which we haven't seen in any other place since we left Europe. Panama City definitely has surprised us and we're hoping to spend some more time around here before we'll continue our journey.