June 19th, 2009 by Potato

“Do you have any open wishes?” is our new favourite saying after being asked by the waitress at a cute little restaurant.

The city is incredibly closed right now, I have no idea why they chose here for a conference. The vast majority of what few restaurants there are are closed for lunch (and almost half are closed completely — it’s the off-season here), yet there are a lot of tourists who really have nothing to do but eat at restaurants for lunch. For that matter, I can’t quite understand why all the restaurants and hotels are 20 minutes away from the conference centre rather than all clustered together. There doesn’t look to be much in the way of air conditioning, though for the most part it’s not really needed, but fans are. The air just sits and stinks and it gets sticky inside, even outside the breeze off the mountains seems to stop for a large part of the day.

I’m actually quite surprised at how warm it is here, since the weather reports keep saying it’ll be 11C or whatever, but the thermometers I’ve seen on the walls and the subjective feeling is that it’s between 25 and 30, with no air movement for much of the day.

The hotel (Sunstark Park) is so strange: it’s supposedly a 4-star hotel, but is just missing some basic amenities (not the least of which is air conditioning). The windows don’t have any screens, so it’s sometimes hard to even open those for air if the bugs are out. The washrooms have giant bottles of hand soap and shampoo, but no conditioner or hand cream. There is wireless internet in every room — but it costs up to $45/day to use!! (8 CHF, which are very close to CAD, per half hour) Despite being close to an international conference centre, the concierge thought I was crazy to think they might have a north american voltage converter to borrow/rent. Supposedly to avoid fire risks, the rooms don’t have irons or coffee makers.

Strange things in Switzerland in general is that many of the doors have a flange to them to seal up to the fram, rather than a jamb in the frame (i.e.: part of the door goes around the frame, rather than in it). There’s a toilet brush next to every single toilet. The toilets are crazy about sanitation! This sponge comes out to clean the seat after you flush and squirts some sort of cleaning fluid (or possibly just water, I don’t know). Many of the other public restrooms had disposable toilet seat covers available.

So, highlights: Mountains, of course. We went on a crazy long bike-ride up around the lake and partway up the mountain, almost 3 hours of pedalling, which is about 4 times longer than I typically bike for, so I was pretty wiped by the end. Great experience though, and my first time doing “real” mountain biking (i.e.: flying down tree-root-laden goat paths, and hitting hills so steep I had to walk the bike up many of them). I stuck my feet in the lake, and it was about as cold as you might expect glacier run-off to be.

We had a social event at a former asylum for tuberculosis patients at the top of a mountain, and we ran a little late and missed the last cable car down (actually, we just made it, but stupidly followed the person who said “oh, too late, let’s walk”). So we walked down the mountain in the dark, with only the lights of our cameras’ LCDs and one tiny LED flashlight to guide us. It took the better part of an hour. About halfway down, with the trees closing in on us, and us coming to the realization that we had walked ourselves into a horror movie, a small white kitten jumped out of the bushes and swatted at my foot, playfully.

Man, I’ve never been so scared of a kitten before, I must have jumped 3 feet in the air.

Davos as seen from the top of the mountain

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