19 July 2011

Panamá Bound

"Alluring" view from our apartment-to-be
Our wonderful two weeks at Las Sirenas were bookended by stays in la cuidad de Panamá, first in Casco Viejo (the old sector) and last in Bella Vista, one of the central downtown neighborhoods. In both of our city sojourns, Kurt and Linda were fairly preoccupied with real estate excursions and decisions. On July 4, right before we left Panamá, we put down a deposit on an apartment, but not where we had originally envisioned buying our new home.

We had realized fairly quickly that Casco Viejo, despite its considerable charm (photos here), was not in our destiny, at least not in the foreseeable future. We enjoyed staying there, in a comfortable apartment with two bedrooms and very nice laundry facilities, and we certainly patronized as many of the area's outstanding restaurants as we could. But the absence of certain amenities - specifically a grocery store - was a hurdle we just could not get around given our vow to remain carless.

And the prices for renovated/reconstructed apartments seemed a bit high, especially since most of the places we looked at lacked some basic elements of architectural/engineering/interior design QA/QC.

  • Example 1: Why is the washer/dryer unit in the middle of the kitchen and why is it white when the other appliances are stainless steel? 
  • Example 2: Why are there 2 bathrooms on the ground floor but nowhere else in a 3-story apartment?
  • Example 3: Why are the doors and shutters in this apartment dark wood in the colonial style and the built-in closets and kitchen and bathroom cabinets blonde pine in the Scandinavian style?
We could go on. . . .

We also reviewed a couple of listings in the "Zone," the former U.S. managed territory, and while the views in some cases were great, accessibility to basic services was again an issue. Finally, we decided to look at some of the new high-rises which have changed the face of the city. On a nice, cooler overcast day we made a long walk from the Casco up the new Cinta Costera that runs along the Bay of Panamá, all the way to Punta Paitilla, through that neighborhood and then back towards the center of town and Bella Vista.

Sunrise downtown
Then we went to the beach for two weeks and thought about things. And while we doing that, we received a very good offer on our apartment in Buenos Aires, so things started to jell.

Nightime downtown
 On our return to the city, we stayed downtown so we could get a better feel for that area. In between eating Lebanese and Greek food, we zoomed in on a building close to completion with a name we prefer to pronounce Argentine style: a-zhur-ee at the Park. (Where do they come up with these monikers?) It's right across Avenida Balboa and the Cinta Costera from the bay, overlooking a rare neighborhood park with a baseball diamond for Little Leaguers, a playground for little kids and a basketball court for big ones, plus lots of trees and grass for dog-walkers (a hobby we hope to resume in the near future).

Zooming in on the causeway and beyond
Our apartment is #33B . . . yep, on the 33rd floor (40 was just a bit too high), with 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a laundry room, a small study, and a nice living/dining combo that spreads from the open kitchen to the 25 square-meter terraza that stretches the length of the apartment, offering great views of the Bay, the entrance to the Canal and the ships waiting there, Amador Causeway and the islands to which it leads, and Taboga Island in the distance.

Plus we get to share the amenities of the common areas: pool, gym, game room, raquetball court, social area, event hall, etc. And best of all, just 1 block away, an excellent grocery store complete with a nice wine cellar stocked with some fine Chilean and Argentine wines at prices well below those charged in Argentina (go figure). We're supposed to move in early 2012. Stay tuned.


Rob L. said...

Wow, it's hard to keep up with the pace you two set. Congrats on getting this move in motion!

Peter & Dragana said...

Wow, looks like you guys have found another great place!

How come you're moving from Buenos Aires? You only just moved there :-)

Brgds / Dragana & Peter

Maria Nasr said...

You need to rename your blog "Where in the World are Linda and Kurt?" We hope to see you while you're in Texas.