my favourite things: CASCO VIEJO, PANAMA CITY

view from old city to newCASCO VIEJO, where elegant mansions rub shoulders with dilapidated ruins in the oldest most vibrant part of Panama City. Originally the home turf of Panama’s elite, the second half of the 20th century was not kind to this old quarter. Rapidly re-gentrifying, it is once again the place to be. James Bond himself, well, actually Daniel Craig, was a local during the filming of Quantum of Solace.

american trade hotelStay: The American Trade Hotel. This once abandoned 1930’s apartment building is now the must stay luxury boutique hotel of the city. High ceilings, big rooms with no expense spared decor and an in house jazz club make it the epitome of equatorial chic.


casa nurettiDrink: Casa Nuratti. The who’s who say they come here for the breathtaking sunsets and four directional forever views. But it may actually be to admire the stunning mini-clad servers. Regardless, they stay for the cocktails. The pina coladas are worth every calorie!

the street sign for calliopeEat: Caliope. Ring the bell and wait to be led into this hip new dinner destination. Named after the leader of the Greek muses and lover to both Apollo and Ares, Caliope offers innovative, oh so tasty dishes. Chef Martino Pace is committed to the best ingredients and sticks to local whenever possible. Favourites include the slow cooked forever, melt in the mouth short ribs and the lighter almost raw, perfectly seasoned tuna tatami. No one should lead without indulging in the chocolate sphere, heaven in a bowl!

http://www.calioperestaurant.comthe amazing tuna tataki


canal christmas

heading to the atlanticLast November my sister asked if I wanted to ski for Christmas. No. But did they want to come through the Panama Canal? She didn’t even ask her family before saying yes. Somehow we both knew this 48-mile passage was going to be special.

fullsizeoutput_8bd5approaching the first lock, we were tied to the tourist boat
So did Charles V. While King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor back in 1534 he ordered a survey of the newly discovered, at least by Europeans, isthmus. He figured control of a canal would give him a huge advantage over Portugal. It was a great idea shared by lots of others over the next 300 years including Thomas Jefferson. But the technology didn’t exist. It wasn’t deemed possible until 1881 when the French, high off the financial and engineering success of the Suez Canal, starting digging. Continue reading

the place to buy?

the entrance of tantalo restaurant Fantastically hip and totally tiny, Casco Viejo is the reason to visit Panama City. Now a neighborhood, back in 1673 it was the city.

love this table at a rooftop nightclubFounded after the original town was laid to waste by the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan, the survivors of his raid chose this little peninsula because it could be easily fortified (then as now governments react to past crisis) and there was fresh water. Coincidentally it was also beside a river that would eventually become the Panama Canal. Continue reading