When we went to the Dominican Republic, we were planning on spending a few days in Santiago, where Aldo grew up, so we can visit his friends and family. I was excited to see the area where Aldo grew up, but Aldo did warn me that there isn’t much to do in Santiago in the way of tourism. There are a few historical museums and I am sure trip advisor has a nice list of top 10 things to do, but it is still not as exciting as Santo Domingo or seeing the beautiful beaches in the DR.
So after Aldo showed me around his neighborhood, we headed towards the Monument. The The full name of it is “Monument of the Heroes of the Restoration” but everyone knows it as “the Monument.” Or rather, “el Monumento.” Apparently, when you ask anyone for directions in Santiago, all directions start from el monumento. And if you ask anyone where they live, they always say ‘by el monumento.’
The Monument and the park around is actually very well maintained, and there are a lot of good restaurants right across the street. The monument itself can get very sketchy as it gets dark, so the best plan is to go sometime around 5-6pm when it is starting to cool down, and then make your way down to the restaurants for dinner as the sun sets.
We did exactly that – we got some fried quipes and empanadas from a stand across the street and headed to the monument. After eating our snack, we headed inside where for a few pesos you could walk up to get a better view of the city. I just love how cheap everything is in the DR – none of that 10 Euro nonsense to climb stairs in a basilica. I feel much better about having to climb stairs when the entrance fee is super cheap.
On each floor of the monument, there was a small museum about the history of Santiago and the Dominican Republic, and on the last floor there were a few mannequins with traditional carnaval costumes and masks. I cannot imagine wearing that much costume in such a hot country!! Aldo says the people are used to it. And it’s true, we saw lots of people in jeans and sweatshirts when I was dying in 90 degree heat… I still don’t understand how they don’t melt.
Thew view from the top of the monument was nice, and the breeze was even better after a hot day in Santiago.
Afterwards, we went down towards the restaurant to meet one of Aldo’s cousins for dinner. We ate at El Tablon, and the food was SO good and so cheap for being in a trendy restaurant in the center of the city. We had balls of yucca appetizers and Aldo had an AMAZING dish that I called “Dominican Pizza” – it was a large crust of fried plantain, with mashed avocado, cheese, and chicharon on top. SO GOOD. That reminds me, I need to make that sometime.