Another quick cup of coffee at breakfast and then I have to dash. Very often that’s how my day starts and probably not just for me. Everyday life keeps us on our toes and that’s why in Advent I like to do something to combat the usual stress. I particularly ensure I treat myself to some time out, to savour the reflective period thoroughly.
Today’s the day. Without further ado, I contact a few friends to see if they have time this evening to visit the Christmas Idyll in the Hofalm area of Filzmoos. The plan is relatively spontaneous, my friends are delighted and nearly all want to come along. We’ll have to forget about the horse-drawn sleigh ride as it’s not normally possible at such short notice, but it’s worth a call. And as luck would have it, there are exactly 4 free spaces for us.
Snorting horses lead the way
From afar I can already hear the gentle tinkling of bells and shortly afterwards, I spy the horse-drawn sleigh coming around the corner. Full of joy I greet the horses first and then it’s time to jump aboard. Off we go, at first on wheels through the village and as soon as we reach the toll house, we switch to sleight runners, as from here on there’s snow covering the road. The reason for this is, the road to the Hofalm is closed to public traffic during the winter months. Thus, making a horse-drawn sleigh ride or a lovely walk through the winter landscape more idyllic.
We head off through snowy forests, the snow banks either side getting higher and higher. Shortly before the end of the ride we come to a clearing and the alpine landscape stretches out in front of us. It seems quieter, only the tinkling of the sleigh bells and the snorting of the horses can be heard amid the winter tranquillity. An impressive sight is the distinctive Bischofsmütze mountain, standing at 2.458 m high with its characteristic twin peaks. It’s also gotten quiet on the sleigh, as everyone is enjoying this special moment.
A circular walk gently lit by torchlight…
Arriving at our destination the horses are allowed a break and we start off along the circular trail to the Christmas Idyll. We start at the Oberhofalm heading up towards the Almsee Lake. Past the crackling torchlights, illuminated silhouette and life-size nativity scene, we come to the “Maria am Steineggl“ Chapel, where we stop for a few moments. What a fabulous view. After short pause for reflection we head on to the “Storytelling Hut”. Here we listen to the storyteller for a while. I’d love to stop here for hours as these Christmas stories really capture the heart. Yet we must carry on.
We walk on the Almsee Lake over crunching snow, where we meet some traditional Perchten (Devils). As opposed to Krampus, the Perchten appear around the end of the year and instead of hitting people with their birch rods, they stroke them over people to bring them luck in the New Year. “Don’t worry, they’re quite tame and won’t do you any harm”, I say to one of my friends, who’s looking quite despondent. We gently tiptoe past the Perchten and stop at the mulled wine stand run by the Mountain Rescue. Over a warming mug we admire the idyllic winter landscape once again and slowly make our way to the end of the circular trail. We head down to the Unterhofalm, where a ready-laid table is waiting for us and round off the evening in front of the open fireplace. A while later we’re transported back down to the valley by taxi.
I thank my friends once again for finding time at such short notice and head home with a smile on my face. Over a mug of hot chocolate, I review the events of the evening before heading off to bed. This certainly won’t be my last visit to the Christmas Idyll, as it’s always a magical evening!
Do you want to experience the magic of winter first-hand? Then head for Filzmoos to the Christmas Idyll in the Hofalm.
photo credits: TVB Filzmoos