I always felt I am not a high rise person, always preferred Brooklyn to Manhattan and what seemed to me to be cuter parts of various cities with shorter buildings. Well, that changed here in Panama City. We stayed here in an apartment on the 11th floor and loved it, loved the views. I always thought I would hate having to take an elevator to reach my apartment and wait each time for it to arrive, but I didn’t mind this either. In fact this elevator was really pleasant–and even had AC–which is pretty awesome when it reaches humidity levels of up to 94%. Similar to Medellín, it can rain quite a lot here too and you never really know when and for how long. Mostly you can wait out the rain though if you get into it when you’re out and about in the city.
We were living in the barrio Punta Paitilla, a safe residential neighborhood, which is right at the edge of the beautiful, palm-tree-lined walking and cycling path along the bay, going all the way to Casco Viejo, the old town. I loved running on that track, even though the sun is very strong here, so close to the equator and the humidity is often very high. Panama City feels very safe. There is always police patrolling the path with motorcycles and bikes and you can’t make the 4 km / 2.5 miles to the old town without encountering them at least once. In the old town there are police standing on almost every street corner and you feel totally safe too. Bee didn’t experience any cat calling either here, which was a given, the moment she stepped out alone in Medellín.
The high altitude running practice (mainly indoors) in Bogotá and Medellín paid off. I was running my fastest pace here in almost 1.5 years, with a top average pace of 4:05 min/km (6:34 min/mile) on a 3k run. Which makes me wonder if I will be able to run a sub 4:00 min/km pace again anytime soon. The highest altitude we experienced here was on top of a building, the JW Marriott Panama building, central America’s tallest building with 280m / 930 ft and spectacular views over the Panama City skyline from its rooftop bar on the 66th floor.
Panama City is a good blend of the old with the new, of a skyline on one side and the old city on the other side. The buildings in the old city are beautifully renovated, apart from a few buildings in between, where only the outside structure remains and which gives the surrounding a Cuban vibe.
The currency used in Panama is the USD and everything is way more expensive than in Colombia, sometimes even more expensive than in Europe and the US. There are lots of US chain restaurants all over Panama City and the grocery stores are full of US products.
Naturally, you find a lot of birds near the local fishing port, but what surprised us, not only here, but throughout the city, you see a lot of vultures. Whenever you look up in the sky, you will see at least one, sometimes dozens flying rounds and once one landed even on the neighboring building roof terrace, near our balcony.
Apart from a few days, when I had a cold, I enjoyed my time in Panama City a lot. Having the possibility to run outside adds a lot to my quality of life. While I also like running outdoors in the cold, I like it even more at warmer temperatures. Year-round warm weather is definitely something I could get used to.