The branches of the large pines groan under the mass of snow, a thick white carpet covers the landscape. Long icicles hanging from the wooden huts, small avalanches slide down from the roofs. In the dreamy Schwarzleotal near Leogang in Austria the winter has already arrived. Small bells break the silence, as the horses Micki and Moritz trot the narrow path along the frozen stream. They pull the big sleigh quietly snorting the way to the quaint hut “Knappenstube”.
In the Austrian Leogang it ‘s time again for fulfilling a travel dream: I will make a romantic sleigh ride! At the entrance of the valley I meet up with Hermann Mitterlechner and his horses and jump directly next to him on the coach. In the back a couple cuddle together in the freezing cold. The hobby coachman breeds the typical Pinzgauer horses and sometimes even drive around with celebrities, for example, Patrick Lindner. “It was his mother ‘s birthday and there should be something special,” says Hermann to me and takes the reins on. Micki and Moritz start trotting through the freshly fallen snow and draw us a good half hour to the quaint hut.
“On the other side of the mountain in Saalbach, there are many coaches, but the ride through the Schwarzleotal is more romantic,” says Hermann Mitterlechner. As the sun disappears behind the mountains, I start freezing under the red-white checkered horse blanket. “Now it has about minus 15 degrees,” knows Hermann, who is apparently used to the temperatures and always driving without gloves. For the trembling guests he grabs a bottle of schnapps. “Tonight I ‘m going to drive a football team to the ‘Knappenstube’, then one bottle of schnapps will certainly be not enough,” he laughs and stops the carriage. We arrived at the cosy hut.
I gave some apples to Micki and Moritz and trudge through the deep snow to the hut. Homely heat flows out to me, the stove heats the small hut tidy. Tour skiers and locals slide together to have a place to offer for us. In a small separate room a dozens of witches hang down from the ceiling.
“They are all presents,” says Heidi Pichler, in place better known as “Grabenhexe” – a witch. She likes that name and provides some glasses of “Hot Witch” on the table. A dollop of whipped cream with cinnamon perched on the hot plum liqueur. Homemade cakes and homemade Kasnockn (special austrian noodles) are also available here.
Strengthened and warmed we return to the horses who have waited for us, covered with thick rugs. They are happy to trot back to their warm barn, but first Hermann brings me right back to the hotel.
Further information:Saalfelden Leogang Touristik GmbH Bahnhofstrasse 10 A-5760 Saalfelden Internet: www.leogang-saalfelden.at This text has been translated to the best of my knowledge into English.