New Year's Tea

I’ll just come out and say it: I didn’t want to do New Year’s Tea this year. Yes, it’s our tradition, yes we try to do it even under strange circumstances (heck, we made our own during COVID). I didn’t want to do it this year because it’s an expensive affair and leaning on the in-laws is not something I want to do.

It is, however, hard to argue with their generosity.

We dressed up, packed up, and hit the road for Banff in two cars: the e-Golf and the Dinosaur. We simply can’t get six people into the Dinosaur, not without running afoul of comfort … or the law.

Today was a gorgeous day to be going into the mountains. The highway wasn’t too bad (though, honestly Alberta, y’all have to learn how to use a cruise control, it’s there for a reason) and we were on time to pay our $26 to park at the Banff Springs Hotel.

In years past, Afternoon Tea was usually in the Rundle Lounge. Following its upgrade, Afternoon Tea got punted out into the Riverview, which is a hallway-cum-lounge, which worked, but really wasn’t quite as nice because … well, it’s a hallway. The reservations this year, as booked by Allen, said “Rundle”, so we had hopes to be back at the window seat over the Bow Valley again.

But we weren’t. Nor were we in Riverview. We were in the Conservatory. I didn’t even know the Banff Springs had a conservatory!

For the record, it’s by far the best place for Afternoon Tea, a semi-circular space that wraps around the end of another ballroom at the northern tip of the hotel. It’s a space you could almost believe is never used (the trellis-like wall covering looks a tad dated), but fits the aesthetic of “tea in the mountains” far better than any other room we’ve been in at the Banff Springs … except maybe the Waldhaus, but that’s a German-style restaurant.

The fare today was easily some of the best we’ve had, with not a single dud in the bunch, from sandwiches to desserts. The only dud, as it turns out, was that the e-Golf, for whatever reason, refused to charge.

I brought Allen and Jean back home to Calgary (desperately needing to get my toe, broken last night in a freak stub-the-stairs moment, out of my shoe and relax a bit) while Alex and the girls tried to get the car charged. Chargers at the hotel were a fail, and the chargers in town next to the Visitor’s Centre only barely worked. (On the bright side, Alex saw Jann Arden.) They ended up having to go into Canmore, where they found the Petro Canada was a red herring, before ending up at the charger we used last summer.

Tonight was A Christmas Story, which is the annual Aicken favourite. Tomorrow, Jean heads home; Allen’s here for a couple more days. And I go back to work, albeit in the basement, which I’m sure my toe will appreciate.