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High on a white summit

india Updated: Feb 02, 2007 18:25 IST
Highlight Story

Last week was the 36th anniversary of The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a power packed symposium put together by the impresario, Klaus Schwab.

Those four days had a surreal quality. The dozing, vest-pocket sized Alpine village of Davos became the destination for thousands of world leaders, titans of industry media moguls, business chieftains, corporate big-wigs, Nobel laureates, thinkers, do-gooders and their entourages.

Over this short period, the heavy-weights pondered over the world’s problems, muses over economic trends, answered raw political questions, conducted business, discussed innovations in science and technology shared skills, launched, funds for charity and networked. The atmosphere was by no means sober, as one was energised by the wealth of people, and then there was the skiing and frenzied partying. Davos weaves its magic far beyond conference centres in its scenic snow stacked, pine-tree-laden hinterland. The bracing air and sweeping vistas lure one out to crunch the snow underfoot. Several delegates skied, ice skated or went for cross-country walks.

A wonderful way to be at one with the hills is to take a sleigh ride. Horses snorting white clouds of breath stand tethered to tradition al coaches, awaiting visitors at the railway station in Davos Platz. The coach man seats you in a wheeled carriage, bundling you up in warm blankets and you set off towards the hills. As you turn off the metalled road onto a snowy path, the wheels are winched up, allowing the metal blades of a traditional sleigh to take over. The horse bells jingle, reminding you of a certain Yuletide number.

Then the charming Swiss chalets dotting the vista come into focus. These homes of eastern Switzerland are traditionally made of stone, with thick walls and small openings to keep the cold out. A clever way to make windows and doors appear larger from the outside was to etch a template of patterns around the frames. This art form, called Sgraffito, soon became the local style and people began paintings deers, trees and other local elements to their homes. Several chalets have been converted into hotels with delightful wintergarten restaurants. Lit up with a myriad golden fairy lights and adorned with cowbells, dolls and local collectables, these restaurants serve local fare such as cheese fondue, barley soup, lamb and wild berries.

Walserhuus in Sertig and Wlserhof in Klosters are two of the most charming chalet restaurants. Davos has a host of popular eateries like Café Schneider (Promenade 68), and Café Cioccolino (Promenade 45). The Piano Bar, Club Cabana disco, Ex Bar, Bolgen Plaza and Chami Bar are late night haunts.

In the four days of the forum, chances are, in the wee hours, there will be some jewels dripping in the most hedonistic places. Through the beat at a nightclub an Israeli doctor shared his thoughts with a priest from Burkina Faso “Never ignore a small fire, a small enemy, a small disease , or a small wisdom.” There’s another kind of a Davos Moment.

Are you ski-smart? Are you a summit-stormer? Here you are simply spoilt for choice with five great skiing regions: Jakobshorn, Parsenn, family-friendly Pischa, Madrisa and Rinerhorn. In other words, you can take your pick of over 300 km of pistes with guaranteed snow and 55 mountain transport facilities.

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