This was awesome on several levels.
Level One: spending time with a good friend
Level Two: drinking tea
Level Three: drinking a marTEAni
Level Four: Being at the Banff Springs - which is pretty much one of the most beautiful hotels in the world
Level Five: Banff in the winter. Because it is a MAGICAL WONDERLAND OF CHRISTMAS AWESOMENESS
I can't even count the amount of times I have been to Banff and yet EACH time I go - it still manages to take my breath away.
You leave the city on highway one, driving through the soft, rolling foothills which at this time of year are covered in hoar frost (who gave something so beautiful such a horrid name?). The Rockies unfold before your eyes and suddenly, POOF!, you are surrounded by these snow-covered rock giants.
I am pretty sure that if you are from any other country and you are told to describe what you think Canada looks like, this would be it. Also, our Rockies kick the American Rockies ass. I don't know why, they just do.
At this point I am getting pretty excited. Like a little kid. Oh look! There's a deer/caribou! Oh look! There's a small Japanese woman trying to ski! Oh look! There's a couple dressed in matching fleece jackets that are covered in wolves and reindeer!
Tea at the Fairmont is tres fancy. Firstly, the room is probably the best out of all the Fairmont's. I mean, it sort of has to be when this is your view from the window.
Secondly, it's called Castle Tea. So you can almost pretend you are Kate Middleton. Also, the 'Castle Tea' has been happening here since 1889. They are pretty good at it now.
You get to smell and learn about each tea on offer. Poor girl repeats the whole shpeel and I still end up with orange pekoe. If you have little guys they have bubblegum or smartie tea!
For an additional few dollars, you can have normal tea and alcoholic tea. I was skeptical about the marteani but it was delicious!! I had a Samurai Saki described as follows:
Wabi: the origin of the Japanese Tea Ceremony conceived by Samurai warriors. Embracing a philosophy of peaceful refinement, the Samurai believed that Matcha tea could restore the body and prepare the mind for battle. The tranquil union of Japan Samurai Gyohuro Green Tea and Dainginjo Saki are complimented by Absolut Kurant Vodka and Crème de Cassis.
It just feels so ladylike and refined to sip tea and eat teeny-weeny sandwiches filled with devilled eggs and ham. Looking out onto the snow sprinkled valley, one can't help but get into the Christmas mood. Plus you get to hang out with your friend who is growing a beach ball belly.
If you happen to be in the Rockies around the holidays, the loveliness of Banff Springs is not the only thing to get that Christmas spirit feeling.
Just a hop, skip and 45-minute drive down the highway is Fairmont's other castle. Chateau Lake Louise. I happily discovered a few years ago that not only can you skate on the frozen lake, but it has an ICE CASTLE!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAH AND FREE HOT CHOCOLATE!!!!
If you want to see the moonlit forest, you can jump on a sleigh driven by horses. If you want to get all romantical, you can even get a private sleigh. We have friends that got engaged this way.
The Engineer and I stayed at the CRMR (something to do with rail?) lodge nearby a few years ago. We loved it - it was so old fashioned. The doors has keys! Actual old-style keys. No key cards here. The only problem was that people forgot and left the keys in the doors. There was also no TV. We had to entertain ourselves.
That's the winter I started reading Charles Dickens.
What's the lesson in this entry? That there is no place like home for Christmas. And lucky for me, THIS is home (or close enough).
Additionally, if you are a bride seeking a perfect winter setting - these places are IT! For $24 000 room rental :)