Santiago de los Caballeros - love at second sight
Now I have been living in Santiago de los Caballeros for over four weeks, have to say goodbye to this city tomorrow and it is high time to tell a little about this place.
Santiago has no typical centre in colonial style - maybe that's why it takes a little longer until a stranger gets to know the charm of this city of almost 600.000 inhabitants.
It is, after the capital Santo Domingo, the second largest city of the country and lies in the Cibao Valley, which is very fertile.
Historically, the city has suffered a lot: Earthquakes, lootings, fires, wars...therefore there is today probably no more old town centre. But scattered over several blocks below the monument, the landmark of the city and built by dictator Trujillo, you can still see many old wooden houses. Here, the city is also the busiest everywhere, Caribbean music drones, so that the walls shake. But Santo Domingo is much louder, says my friend Miguel...
The best thing is to throw yourself into this turmoil and walk through the streets: the sights are morbidly beautiful and by the way you see world class graffiti! You should drink an aperitif in this corner at Dao Al Pecao - the small car-free Calle Benito Monicón is worth a visit at all: cool, rather quiet bars can be found right here and some art galleries.
Near the monument there are also many bars (the wilder ones), also the view to the city is great. Most shops are located in the Calle del Sol downhill and around this street. The park in front of the cathedral is beautiful, and the Fortaleza San Luis from the 19th century is worth seeing. It houses a museum of military history.
Please also don't forget to visit the Centro Léon (see blog of March 10th), here one gets really deeply into the culture and history of the island.
What do I love about Santiago? The great graffitis (Graffiti - the frescoes of our time that tell us a lot about the lives of people here and now), the cheerful music everywhere, the good food, the relaxed people, the varied, often surprising views and the wind that always blows through here.
Here are my favourite addresses:
El Tablon Latino
Calle Del Sol 12
very good Dominican cuisine
La Taberna de Pepe
Calle Mauricio Alvarez 6
very fine cuisine and great wine cellar
Saga Restaurant & Cigar Club
24, Av Benito Juarez
typical country cuisine but also international, very good meat and great wines
Camp David Ranch
Carretera Luperon km 7 1/2, Gurabo
the restaurant (there is also a hotel) is located high above the city on the hill, the view is great, the food is very good
Dao al Pecao
Calle Benito Moncion 41
quiet, cool furnished, good atmosphere
Mar y Fuego (also a good restaurant)
Lic. Agustin Acevedo