The World Economic Forum in Davos is known for its exclusive visitors, and high prices. One friend of mine told me they were staying in a hotel that was costing €5,000 a night.
The likes of Sir David Attenborough, Shinzo Abe, Angela Merkel, Prince William, and Jacinda Ardern (oh, and Steven Seagal, for some reason), dropped into the frozen Swiss town to tell everyone how they want to save the world (while flying in on private fucking jets – hypocrites).
Some of my friends and I decided to challenge the status quo. “What if we could do Davos, for the whole week, on less than €400?” Great question. A few hundred WhatsApp group messages later, and we had our answer. “Hell yes!”
The journey started in Munich. We picked up an RV that had everything we needed for the stay. There were four of us, and the back of the bus had two double beds. We had four sleeping bags. We had a vehicle that sported two batteries, a heating system (with a timer, so we could set it to be toasty when returning from the nightly parties), and all the mod cons you’d expect. Including a cooker we never used, because you don’t pay for food and drink in Davos – it’s all laid on.
But what we didn’t quite plan out was where we’d park this huge camping van on steroids. You’re not allowed to sleep in the car parks, so we took to the Couchsurfing app and looked for a place to crash that also had a drive. That way, we’d be parked on private land. One of my intrepid friends handled that bit, since (at the time) I wasn’t a member of the Couchsurfing community.
The drive from Munich to Davos was pretty simple. As we got closer to the playground of the rich and famous, the roads got a little more treacherous. All my old race car driving training kicked in, and flashbacks of days practicing skids and slides came in handy.
In fact, the most difficult part of the entire journey was the last 100 meters. You see, the crash pad was at the top of a fucking massive hill, covered in show and ice. And, because we’re idiots, we forgot the snow chains for the tires back in Munich. Nice work, eh?
After some serious clutch control, throttle management, and a good amount of positive thought, we made it up the hill, but the angle into the drive was too tight and we couldn’t get the damn RV around the corner. We decided, since we’re crashing at the house anyway, that it could stay in the car park, and we’d just have to walk up to the house.
That, in itself, was an adventure. Backing down a slippery hill with the bus at a weird angle proved to be a heart-wrenching task. I think I swore more times in that ten minutes than I had in the previous ten days, as I came close to planting the vehicle sideways into someone’s beautifully constructed stone wall. I could see our money going instantly on the vehicle damage excess.
But, we made it, without damaging the RV or ourselves.
It was when we got back to the house, that things started to feel a little – well – odd. The guy that owned the house welcomed us into his huge place. But the air felt damp. The stairs were small, tight, and difficult to climb. It was utterly freezing – in fact it was -24 degrees Celsius outside, and felt the same indoors.
The only heated room was the living room. I’d arrived with only one of my friends – the others were going to join us by plane and train later. After getting into the one heated room, I finally got to look at our host.
You know when you’re watching a horror movie, and there’s that one person (guy, usually) that has really beady eyes they won’t take off you? You know – the one that is clearly either the serial killer, or the character the director wants you to think is the murderer?
He looked just like that.
And the conversation was super uneasy. His focus was clearly not on me, but on my female co-pilot. And when he walked away to get us a drink, she told me she had the same feelings about him, and said: “I did think it weird that he only had young women stay with him on his profile.”
We made our excuses – being super fucking tired at this point – and he showed us our room options. One thing was for sure. I wasn’t about to let my friend be in a different room to me. We had our individual sleeping bags, which turned out to be a godsend. Not only was the place freezing, but the bed, bedding, and air in the room was damp.
One of our other friends – another guy – arrived, and we explained the situation. Without any extra space in our room, he had to stay in another. It was equally as cold and damp. I feared we may never see him again, with a potential killer as a host.
One awful terrible night in that house was enough. And, to be honest, we didn’t really need to stay anywhere after that first day anyway. Davos is business during the day, party at night, so none of us slept in any case. Thankfully, because the “no camping” rule in the car park would have been broken if we did.
Our total for the week, with the RV, fuel, that one terrible night with the would-be killer, and all our food and drinks laid on? €385 each. Mission accomplished.
Would I do it again? Probably not, but that was a week a thousand incredible stories, and I’ll take them to my grave. Thankfully, that’ll be further down the line, and not at the hands of a Couchsurfing host. 😉