Easing into the Alps: Trains, snow and ‘Weffers’ gossip

Easing into the Alps: Trains, snow and ‘Weffers’ gossip
An armed security personnel wearing camouflage clothing stands on the rooftop of a Davos hotel as the 2018 World Economic Forum gets underway. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018

Easing into the Alps: Trains, snow and ‘Weffers’ gossip

Easing into the Alps: Trains, snow and ‘Weffers’ gossip

DAVOS: Maybe it’s not how the “masters of the universe” arrive in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, but economy class from Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways was good enough for a humble journalist like myself.
No fancy limo or chopper for me either. I got three trains from Zurich airport before I arrived at my temporary home for this week — the delightful Alpine town of Klosters, just down the road from Davos, 15 minutes by WEF shuttle.
Klosters deals with the overspill from the main WEF site in Davos, but actually I find it a nicer place to stay during the WEF. It is a ski and snow resort, all timbered Alpine houses and quaint hotels. I’m staying at the Cresta Hotel on Landstrasse, just behind the main drive.
It represents quite good value for a WEF hotel in the week when many of the richest people in the world come to spend shareholders’ money.
But the Cresta — warm, pleasant, with a hearty Swiss restaurant — still costs roughly the same as it would to have a Gulf-view suite in one of Dubai’s five star hotels on the Jumeirah coast.
The limo or the chopper from Zurich may be faster, but the train journey gives you a chance to ease yourself into the Davos experience.
The modern inter-city trains that whizz you from the airport to the city of Zurich and then out on the road to Davos give you a taste of Swiss efficiency, and a chance to take in the soaring mountains that line the Zurichsee lake. The clouds were low and dark, threatening more snow after several big dumps last week.
But it is when you get to Landquart, where you have to change trains for the Davos branch line, that the real Alpine tour begins.
The quaint red carriages of the Rhatische Bahn carry you through the snow. The passengers were a mixture of locals going to work, a party of schoolchildren heading off for a day on the slopes, and the first “Weffers” — Davos attendees — I had so far encountered.
One of the secret pleasures of Davos is eavesdropping weffers’ conversations. Here’s a typical one:
Guy who said he came from Kinshasa in Democratic Republic of Congo to young European lady: “The older I get the more I think about the power of social media.” He must have been all of 25.