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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.

Panama…It’s not just for Hats!

Posted: June 16, 2007
by: Mark Stine

GourmetStation’s research into world cuisine has inspired me over the years to look beyond the suburban life I have led and see new and …shall we say tasty opportunities and well…what would the cuisine be like in say Panama?

Having been a subscriber to International Living for the last three years, which touts low cost spots in the world where you can live large on less and whose online emails haunt me incessantly with “about to be missed affordable real estate opportunities,” I finally took the plunge and headed off to Panama.

Panama seemed to fit the bill…civilized and direct flights to the US, the Canal….an emerging Latin Capital that has recently been labeled, “The new Miami” and high-rises sprouting like mushrooms along the bay front and around the “chic-er” neighborhoods. Since I had already missed out on coastal Croatia and newly discovered Montenegro, what with the Brits driving up coastal hot spots in Europe, while I sat reading about it, I thought don’t let the Panama bandwagon pass you by!

So, I talked two friends into an adventure and off we went. But before heading off, I needed two things, a realtor and a place to stay. The realtor was problematic….However after a quick search on the internet I uncovered a gem of a B&B in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Panama.

Our hosts were Patty and Rudy of Patty’s Casita. Her web site reads”“Patty's Casitas offers an alternative to typical Panama City hotel accommodations...as we offer B&B and apartment for short term rental in the heart of Panama city where you will find Panamas major attractions such as the Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks), the Bridge of Life Museum of Biodiversity (soon to be build by the renown architect Frank Gehry), history, shopping, bird watching (Gamboa), Eco tourism, jungle trekking, marine and biodiversity exhibition centers and much more...Our Guest House Bed and Breakfast in Panama City (Arcos de Bella Vista), a beautiful colonial house, offers a spacious suite with en-suite bathroom located in a residential and exclusive green area, called Bella Vista and our self-catered apartment (Amador Rental) is located in the hottest new tourist destination called Amador! You will find excellent restaurants, bars, night clubs and waterfront promenade all within few minutes walk from our panama city lodgingsJ While this country has a large number of hotels in Panama City to choose from, we feel that our non smoking accommodations offer the best deal available...providing you with inside tips (we speak English, French, German, Italian and Spanish), airport transfer service from and to Tocumen International Airport and private guided tours in Panama City and surroundings.”

And I agree with all she had to say in her web site. A wonderful 1930’s vintage estate property, in an up and coming renovation neighborhood right next to the restaurant district, Patty’s Casita offered the perfect location from which to launch our real estate search.

But first breakfast! When one thinks B&B, the range of breakfast items provided can be coffee and a roll, to interesting and tempting breakfast treats. Patty subscribed to the later. Patty, a multi- national person has lived in many global spots, and she offered a wonderful breakfast each morning. Tasty empanadas, fresh local fruit, yogurt, meats and cheeses…locally grown Panamanian coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, why every morning was like a buffet.

Better yet, while we enjoyed this breakfast repast ( we.. being me, Barb and John…three real estate bargain hunters), Patty and her husband Rudy would graciously provide insights on their own real estate ventures. Joined by her mother, visiting from Germany, whose husband and she had also purchased beach property in Panama, we felt immediately like we were part of an extended family. Rudy in fact had met us at the airport in Panama City, they provide full services to visitors, with Rudy doing tours and assisting visitors and Patty handling the B&B.


We had a wonderful time looking at real estate…sampling delicious sea food and learning about Panama…why we even saw the Panama Canal in action while we enjoyed a champagne brunch one Sunday. I thought it would be dull as dirt watching a large ship go up and down in the locks…but frankly the champagne inspired everyone to gleefully race out onto the terrace and shoot pictures, videos and generally whoop it up! It was a good time and memory.

On a cultural note…I was made aware of a book which reaches into the heart of Panama through a Fantasy tale …a book called, in English, The Forbidden Valley, en Espanol - El Valle Prohibido, available on Amazon.com  The Panamanian author is Eduardo Lince Fabrega and is based on the fantasies and historical events interwoven into memories of his childhood spent in el Valle.


So…the Panamanian trip was a success. I have four condo projects under consideration as a retirement outpost…very low property taxes a HUGE incentive, coupled with warm tropical weather. My traveling buddy John found a place on the beach to check out as a purchase option (as well as a Panamanian hat), and co-conspirator in world forays Barb…(you may remember her as “Rhubarb Barb” from a prior recipe blog). Well she sees potential investment in the beach too. Living in California and not far from Malibu, she was partial to the Malibu Beach project. Finally...a living breathing …Malibu Beach Barbie…stay tune to see if we join the expat community. In the interim…think Panama…it’s a happening place!

Mark Stine

Your Comments

Hey Mark...I'm curious..did you purchase your retirement dream??? I'm walking the same path so would be interested to know what you decided...cheers Linda in Canada

Posted by: Linda at Dec 26, 2007 6:24:07 PM

Thank you Patty & Rudy for a wonderfully restful stay at your bed and breakfast. The accomodations were comfortable and the cleanest we have ever experienced. The breakfast was always a good variety to please any palate. We were made to feel as welcome as family.
Rudy's tour to the Indian Village was the best side trip we have ever taken. we learned so much about their culture. We would definetly give it a 4-star rating.

Posted by: Dale & Annette Blow at May 19, 2009 2:14:15 PM