January 25, 2011 / 3:12 PM / 8 years ago

Travel Postcard: 48 hours among the global elite

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters Life!) - It is the ultimate networking event for the global elite, but the annual World Economic Forum isn’t all heavy-duty business and geopolitics.

The Seehof hotel is seen in Davos January 25, 2011. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

There is plenty to do “off piste,” intellectually speaking, and it would be a shame not to take in some winter sport too.

Dress warmly. Davos is 1,560 meters (5,118 feet) above sea level and the average temperature during the annual meeting is -4 degrees C (24.8F) to 1 C. It can drop to -20 C at night.

Traveling the 160 km (99 miles) up the mountain from Zurich airport — by bus, train, car or helicopter — is part of the fun. If you are flying by private jet, Samedan airport is only 66 km (41 miles) away.

Got 48 hours free this week? Here are some ideas. Be warned: Davos is not for the riff-raff. You need the right badge to get past the heavy Swiss security.


7 p.m. Arrive in Davos. You’re a day late, but then the really important people are never around for the whole thing. You can still bag a few world leaders, even if you have missed Dmitry Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy.

8 p.m. Plunge straight into one of the those daunting dinners that typify Davos. How about language? Did you know that 7,000 languages are spoken around the world, yet one vanishes every two weeks? Pop along to the Derby Hotel to find out more.

10 p.m. Time for a “nightcap” — a strange Davos tradition of late-night, high-brow chats. The vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford is hosting a reception at the snazzy Belvedere Hotel, with a selection of ports from Oxford’s cellars.

Midnight. The evening is still young. Head for the town’s piano bar. Canada’s Barry Colson is an institution and plays nightly during January at the Tonic Bar in the Hotel Europe.

Friday 8:30 a.m. You need something bracing to get you going after last night, so sign up to join the Refugee Run. It’s not a talk but a full-on simulation of what it is like to be in a war zone, navigate a minefield and live in a camp. You will be taken through the experience by a team from the UN High Commission for Refugees and refugees themselves.

10:30 a.m. Time for a rest. So take a back seat in the main Congress Hall and pretend to listen carefully to British Prime Minister David Cameron giving his Davos address. 12:30 p.m. Science for lunch. Learn about the underlying causes of the cancer epidemic from U.S. National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins and others during a lunchtime briefing at the Hotel Post.

2 p.m. Take the afternoon off and go skiing. The slopes will be blissfully empty with everyone else stuck inside. Head up Parsenn for the longest downhill runs. There are pistes to suit all levels of skiers.

5:30 p.m. If you are quick, you can be back in the Congress Hall to catch another global leader when German Chancellor Angela Merkel shares her thoughts on “Global and European Challenges.”

8 p.m. A cheese supper is a must while you are in Davos and Bistro Gentiana is well-known for its wide selection of fondue dishes, as well as its snails. Drink plenty of white wine with your melted cheese. Avoid Coca-Cola — it really doesn’t mix.

10 p.m. The hottest ticket in town is for the Google party in the Belvedere Hotel. Everyone who is anyone will be there, but tickets are like gold dust.

Midnight. Round off your night with a taste of Bollywood at the Hotel Europe, courtesy of the big Indian delegation, with authentic DJ remixes and Indian dancers.


9 a.m. Get some fresh air into your lungs with a trip up the Schatzalp on the funicular. You can enjoy a coffee or hot chocolate on the sunny cafe terrace at the top and take in the great view. Then jump on a traditional Davoser sledge for a gentle 2.8 km (1.7 mile) run down to Davos Platz.

11:45 a.m. Back to the main Congress Hall for your third G8 leader, as Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kangives his vision for the country.

12:15 p.m. Lunch today is on oil-rich Norway, which is providing a Norwegian buffet throughout the Congress Center.

2 p.m. Is seeing believing? Discuss. Get your brain cells working with this session about art and illusion. Artists and neuroscientists question exactly what our brains perceive as fact, art and as illusion in an age of computer technology.

Slideshow (9 Images)

3:30 p.m. Afternoon coffee at Kaffeeklatsch, just down the road from the Congress Center, with a fine selection of home-made cakes.

5 p.m. A final session to remember Davos 2011 by on “Building a Civilized Workplace: The ‘No Jerks’ Rule.” You can’t argue with that, can you?

8 p.m. One more party: this time it is the official Cultural Soiree throughout the Congress Center to toast the many words that have been spilled in a few short days in the Alps.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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