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Palais des Congres, Montreal (Photo: Celeste Schulman/My Shot)

Karla’s Montreal

Welcome back to another edition of I Heart My City. Today’s guide was sent in by reader Karla Aguilar, who left her city of Montreal, Canada nearly a year ago to live and work in South Korea. Homesick for her hometown, she sent us this ode to Montreal. Read Karla’s I Heart My City guide to get tips on the best places to eat, shop, and play, then tell us what you love about Montreal in the comments section below.

Montreal is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to Old Montreal.

When I crave international food I always go to Rue Saint-Denis or Avenue du Mont-Royal to sample Latin American, Thai, Vietnamese, Lebanese, or Korean cuisine, among many others.

To escape the urban chaos I head to Mont-Tremblant. It’s a fabulous ski resort under 2 hours away.

If I want to get some oxygen and release stress, I go for a walk on Mont-Royal’s mountain trails.

For complete quiet, I can hide away at Île Notre-Dame.

If you have to order one thing off the menu from Schwartz it has to be a smoked meat sandwich. They are legendary.

Jean-Talon Market is my one-stop shop for organic fruits, vegetables, cheeses, nuts, flowers, etc.

Locals know to skip Eaton Center and check out the stores on Saint-Catherine street.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go to Chinatown close to Old Montreal for a nice meal and drink.

For a huge splurge I go to the outlets north of Montreal, in Saint-Sauveur.

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Photo: Karla Aguilar Perez

Photo ops in my city include Old Montreal, Downtown, Oratoire St-Joseph, and the Botanic Gardens and the best vantage points are from Mont-Royal, Île Notre-Dame, and Olympic Stadium.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Canadian pop punk band, Simple Plan: authentic, passionate, fun, and full of life.

The most random thing about my city is that we are on the same latitude as Venice, Italy.

In my city, an active day outdoors involves walking, cycling, and rollerblading.

My city’s best museum is the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

My favorite jogging/walking route is the bicycle/walking path at the old port.

La Banquise is the spot for late-night eats. They have the most incredible poutines!

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Montreal Mirror or Journal Voir.

You can tell a lot about my city from the huge mix of people from all over the world that call it home.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they eat, breathe, and live for hockey or if they can tell you how to get to The Main or St-Cath!

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Photo: Karla Aguilar Perez

In the spring you should visit the Montreal Botanic Garden

In the summer you should go to any of the city’s beautiful terraces and dine al fresco. The best view of the city is definitely from Altitude Club 737. It is sensational!

In the fall you should take a day trip to the Laurentians mountains to admire the changing colors.

In the winter you should head to the underground city, which is a network of tunnels that connect the downtown’s most important buildings, shopping centers, hotels, and subway stations. It spans over 20 miles (32 km). La Ville Souterraine, as it is called in French, is a refuge during the cold winter (and sizzling summer days.)

For a great breakfast joint try Palais Montcalm.

Don’t miss the festival season that runs from June until September. It is one festival after another; most of them are free!

Just outside my city, you can visit Ottawa, the capital of Canada which is about a 2 hour drive.

If my city were a pet it would be a grey wolf: unique, mysterious, united with its kind, loyal, fierce, territorial (especially when it comes to the national sport, hockey), and proud.

If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live (where?) in the mountains!

The best books about my city are The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler and Bonheur D’occasion by Gabrielle Roy.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “City D’amour” by Karen Belfo.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss La Ronde amusement park on Île Notre-Dame.

The Canadian Grand Prix F1 Race, Canada’s biggest sport event of the year, could only happen in my city.

My city should be featured on your cover or website because Montreal is a world-class, charming, dynamic, multi-lingual, and amazing city ready to surprise and welcome you!

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Photo: Celeste Schulman/My Shot