I arrived in Panama a day before my Panama Relocation Tour started so I could spend some time in Panama City.  I was really looking forward to exploring this totally new city in a totally new country.

Panama City is huge! Almost half the population of the country’s 3.6 million people live there. It is a thriving, high-energy city with explosive job growth. It was fun to imagine being in my 20s or 30s and staying to make my fortune.

I took a taxi from the hotel to the Old Town (Casco Viejo or Casco Antiguo) area. I went by the contemporary F&F Tower (also called the screw building):

Screw building

There was construction everywhere:

Panama City skyscraper

Panama’s sidewalks are filled with sudden steps and ramps and elevation changes, mostly unmarked, and you have to look sharp everywhere you go. I took the picture below just before I managed to fall, within only a half hour of starting my Old Town exploring. There was a step there that I just didn’t see. Fortunately I didn’t hurt myself badly and my brand new camera was fine.

Panama City promenade

Old Town or Casco Viejo dates back to 1673. It is a fascinating mix of shabby colonial building facades and sleek finished renovations with modern, air conditioned and sophisticated designs.

This was one of the many building shells that were awaiting renovation:

Panama City building facade

I definitely saw the possibilities in this building:

Panama City corner building

Some of the beautifully renovated areas:

Panama City renovated stone building

As is typical in an older area of a city, streets were narrow:

Panama City white buildings

Gorgeous tile work:

Panama City tile work

Compañía de Jesús, the ruins of an ancient convent:

Panama City mission building

View of Old Town from the Cinta Costera Highway that surrounds it:

Panama City Casco Viejo view

View of Panama City and Cinta Costera Highway from Old Town:

Panama City skyline 1

The heat was brutal. The morning wasn’t bad, but the weather got hotter and more humid throughout the day, and there were short episodes of intense rain. The extreme heat and threatening rain became too much for me, so I headed back to the hotel by 3 pm to enjoy the cool comfort of my hotel room until dinner.

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