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Tea Places

The Tea House Challenge at Lake Louise

a.k.a. one of the best goddamned days of my life.

I’m so excited we’ve finally arrived here!

I wanted to share this with everyone for so long. Someday I am going to become a tea house hermit in the Canadian wilderness. It’s only a matter of time.


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The Tea House Challenge

The Tea House Challenge is a 14.6km round-trip hike that starts at the base of Lake Louise and takes you in to and behind the mountains around the lake, and back again.

It should be considered a sacred pilgrimage for any tea-lover who finds themselves in western Canada.

At least, that’s how I feel about it.

There are two tea houses: the Lake Agnes Tea House, and the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. Each has it’s own trail, or you can combine them into a super trail for the longer Tea House Challenge Route, which is what we did.

You don’t need any maps. The trail is straightforward. When you reach Lake Louise, follow the path that leads towards the back of the lake and you’ll come to the trailhead naturally.

Everything can clearly marked, with lots of good signposts along the way. A lot of the signs were in miles. Canada only got their metric act together in the 70s, and a lot of the signs have been here much longer.

And hey, we made this awesome video to share with you.

It starts off on a rainy morning. We saw lightning strikes as we headed across the Lake Louise Parkway.

We weren’t allowed to film inside the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. They have a no-media policy to preserve the atmosphere and let their guests tune in to nature instead. Totally fine by me. Their chocolate cake made everything okay.

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Okay, so I did sneak one photo. Of this mostly-eaten cake. I couldn’t stop myself; the cake was half-gone before I even picked my camera up.

Not in the video: When we arrived at the Lake Agnes Tea House (with only enough money for one chai!) the staff at the Lake Agnes Tea House gave us a note to take to the staff at the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. In exchange (and out of the kindness of their hearts) they gave us a cookie.

The two sets of staff hang out together and walk the path between tea houses all the time. They also walk up and down the mountain nearly every day, with trash or to get supplies.

The note said, “See you for church night. Don’t stand us up again!”

I asked our server what church night is.

“Oh, it’s half off wings and beer down in town.”

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The Banff Tea Company provides the tea for the Plain of Six Glaciers tea house. I visited the tea company in Banff the day before (because of course I did) and there I learned that the woman who started the Banff Tea Company now owns the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House.

The Banff Tea Company even does a special Plain of Six Glaciers herbal blend. I got this and some of their Traveller’s Tea. They do a lot of specialty blends with rocky mountains and Albertan themes. Definitely visit them if you’re in Banff.

You can’t buy any loose tea at the tea house. Bringing up stock is difficult so they only keep on hand what they need to cook for guests. If you want to buy tea, best stock up in Banff before or after.

The Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House is pretty old. It was built in 1927 by two Swiss guides for the Canadian Pacific Railway. There is also a dog named Arlo-Barlo.

The Lake Agnes Tea House is the oldest tea house in Canada. It was built in 1901 by the Canadian Pacific Railway and started serving tea in 1905. They have been serving tea for 110 years.

Honestly, walking up to the Lake Agnes Tea House was like walking into Rivendell. We were so tired and it was such a paradise. There’s even a waterfall with stairs going up the side you have to climb to get there.

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For Canada, that’s mighty old.

That’s a lot of cups of tea.

It was so chilly outside the tea house and warm inside with the ovens going that thick condensation hugged the windows. It was so cozy. I could have spent the whole day here.

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I don’t know if you can tell, but I am VERY happy here.

Also, we had some ridiculously good photo weather. I mean, and this is half brag and half incredulity, but just look at these!

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I kept feeling like I was in Jurassic Park, or a new Mac OS screensaver. Either way, goddamn lucky. It was rainy and overcast when we left (as you can see in the video). Never thought we’d get clouds or sun like this.

The photo above is a piece of the mountain known as the Big Beehive.

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If you do this route, don’t forget to bring cash.

The Lake Agnes Tea house is cash only, and Plain of Six Glaciers did take our VISA, but bring cash, that way you’re good no matter what.

Ask me any questions you want about the trail! Is there anything I forgot to add?

And (of course) a rainbow at the end of the day to tie it all together.

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This was a day when I felt really lucky to be alive and be human and get to climb mountains and drink tea and see rainbows.

The world is a really extraordinary place. I’m very privileged and lucky, but you know what? A lot of people who can afford to, don’t even make time for little pleasures, like looking at rainbows, and drinking tea. They say they can’t, or just don’t think of it.

Make time for those things, okay guys? They’re really important.

And you know what? Rainbows are free. Tea is nearly free.

What’s that phrase, “the best things in life…”

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Day 16 Costs:

  • Family Diner, Lupper for 2: $34.29
  • Lake Agnes Tea House, Chai Latté: $4.00
  • Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House (chocolate cake, 2 sandwiches, soup with corn chips, chai latte, 2 bottles of water, lemonade): $53.80

Total: $92.09

Canada Destinations

Across North America, Day 1: Halifax to Quebec City

Day One complete!

We’re off to a great start, with beautiful driving weather from here to New Brunswick, and then an exciting ‘Major Thunderstorm Warning!’ from neighbouring Maine that interrupted out radio and made us feel like we were in the first 15 minutes of a natural disaster movie (we drove through some rain, but nothing Twister-esque).

Check out our time-lapse video driving down Route 2 in New Brunswick, narrated by Rob:

Last night saw us wandering around the Citadel of Old Quebec, eating maple syrup candy and crêpes from street stalls, and (like the road trip gods were smiling down on us) seeing a rainbow!

I’m sure not all days will give us such good weather and conditions for exploring, but I definitely am thankful for a good start.

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Last night we drove an hour outside of Quebec City to Victoriaville (en route to Montréal, our next stop), where we had free camping for the night in a parking lot outside Parc Terres-des-Jeunes.

This morning, we shimmied over to McDonalds to use their bathrooms and grab some free wifi and breakfast. Next we plan to get some groceries from the nearby Farmer’s Market before getting back on the road to Montréal. Allons-y!

Day 1 Costs*:

  • Fill the gas tank before leaving in Dartmouth, NS:  $72.45
  • Breakfast, 6 bottles of water outside Truro, NS: $8
  • NB Route #2 Toll Booth: $4
  • Gas up outside of Oromocto, NB: $56
  • Coffee and Map at NB/QC Border: $6
  • Squeaky Cheese and Fill Gas, 30 Minutes Outside Quebec City: $74
  • City Parking in Quebec City for 4.5 Hours Outside Jardin Jeanne-Arc in Old Quebec w. wifi and bathroom: $10
  • Icy Maple Syrup Street Snack in Old Quebec: $2
  • Supper of Quinoa Feta Salad, Perrier, Nutella-Banana Crêpe, Tea in Old Quebec: $17
  • Toothbrush (I forgot mine) and sparklers in Victoriaville, QC: $4.53
Total: $253.98

Vehicle: 2000 Dodge Caravan (not the most gas efficient)

 

Distance Travelled: 1,192.5km/10,500km = 11.36% of Driving Complete!

 

*Costs for food are for one person, costs for parking, gas, and other split things were split between my boyfriend and I, so for example: $72.45 in gas really only cost me $36.23.

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My boyfriend was really excited by the tunnels at the Quebec Citadel… he really likes tunnels.

A few people on their own road trips have already reached out to us to meet along different legs of our journey. If you’re traveling around Canada this summer too, let us know! Our approximate locations on dates are on my original post, How To Plan The Great North American Road Trip.

Destinations South Korea

How to Barbecue Like All The Cool Kids Do In South Korea

And the not so cool ones, and everyone. Everyone loves Korean Barbecue. It’s a great time to sit around and chat with friends while grilling marinated meat and drinking alcohol. Man’s timeless source of joy.

Gogigui (a.k.a. Korean barbecue) is beloved in Korea (and abroad) for many reasons. My personal favourite is the endless side dishes. Those little white plates you see decorating the table are filled with yummy goodness like kimchi, Korean radish (a.k.a. ‘mu’ in Korean, or what you might know as ‘daikon’ in Japanese), bean sprouts, garlic bulbs, seaweed salad, and many other delicious things, depending on the venue. Although the meat supply is finite, servers will keep bringing you more side dishes ad infinitum. It is impossible to leave hungry.

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Lifestyle

Shooting the Trailer for “When It Rains” by 2B Theatre

Another summer project put to bed. 2B Theatre is a group out of Halifax who asked me to re-shoot their trailer video for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival happening in August (a.k.a. the largest fringe festival in the world – 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in 299 venues). I was a bit nervous because they’re a pro touring company, and I knew that making a better video meant helping to grab more ticket sales out of the throngs of people that flock to Edinburgh for the festival.

The play uses projections (it’s all about using projections in theatre these days – luckily, Halifax has Nick Bottomley) and stark colours to emulate a graphic novel aesthetic. It’s a pretty cool piece and has been touring around since 2011. You can check it out on 2B Theatre’s website, here.

Here’s the trailer:

If you happen to be lucky enough to be in Edinburgh for fringe this season, be sure to check it out! It’s running August 2nd-23rd at Pleasance Kingdom (Venue 23) at 3:35 p.m. You can buy tickets, here.


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