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Montreal is unlike anywhere else I’ve been in Canada.

It truly feels like you’ve been transported to a different country altogether. I used to wonder why they’ve always felt that they’re so different from the rest of Canada…but now I can kind of understand why.

I think it would’ve been a totally different experience if I had gone with friends—I’ve heard that the nightlife there is a huge highlight of the city. But I’m glad I got to experience Montreal in this wholesome, wholehearted way.

While Vancouver often feels like it lacks in culture and age, Montreal seems to be brimming with it. You can see it in the architecture, storefronts, residential areas, and even the cafes.

You know I couldn’t go without stopping at a couple well known ones around the city. I loved Tommy Cafe. Located a block away from the Notre-Dame Basilica, it was the perfect place to sit, rest our feet, before or after we visited.

I absolutely loved how they kept a lot of the original structural design—the face of the builidng still had that old-world charm, the cieling moulding reminding you of Montreal’s age. But had a giant hanging plant chandalier as a centerpiece, giving you the feeling of new life.

It was also multi-leveled which added to the eccentric, quirky nature of the place. This would definitely be where I’d spend all my time if I lived in Montreal.

Probably the most recommended place to eat in Montreal was Schwartz’s Deli. A Montreal gem, I can promise you no other smoked-meat sandwich place will ever be the same.

As someone who doesn’t typcally like mustard at all, I was super surprised to find that I loved their sandwiches. Make sure you get the “fat” version because the meat is way juicier and tastier.

The mustard wasn’t overpowering, the perfect seasoning to the sandwich, and the meat was delectable.

If I could have it for lunch every day I would!

We must’ve gone at the perfect time because when we got there was no line. But as soon as we sat down, a massive line formed at the door.

We ended up sitting with the nicest old man who walked us through what to get, how to order, and even other cool spots around town. The shared tables might seem intimidating at first, but I’m glad we got to share it with him.

Eating at Schwartz's Deli in Montreal, Canada

I feel like we never had a bad meal while we were in Montreal. And yes, although lunch and dinner were often also delicious, breakfast/brunch made up my favourite meals while we were there. I swear you could be looking through Yelp for hours trying to pick a place to eat.

Another infamous Montreal must-try are their bagels. There seems to be a debate around two bagel shops, and which one trumps the other. Those two options are St Viateur and Fairmount Bagels. There are other options as well but these two were definitely the most recommended!

My personal opinion? I LOVED St Viateur. Fairmount bagels is just a small shop where you buy your bagel and leave. I liked that St Viateur was more of a sitdown, cafe vibe. And I just loved that they offered more of a “sandwich” option with their bagels.

I won’t lie, my favourite bagels EVER are still definitely in New York (or Brooklyn to be exact). But St Viateur definitely rivaled it. Whether you are a St Viateur person or a Fairmount bagels person totally depends on how you like your bagels.

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I’m still amazed at just how culturally different a province within the same country can be. I used to wonder why Quebec as a province always fought so hard to maintain so independent and different, but now I kind of understand.

There’s this entirely different world out there that they are trying to protect. Quebec has worked hard to keep their culture and language unique and safe and I’ve definitely grown a new found appreciation for it all.

Angel Zheng

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