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Davos Bound, Into the 'Bubble'

Sure, the World Economic Forum's annual winter gathering is referred to as "Davos," for that is its host location in Switzerland. But getting to the Swiss Alps town with a population of just over 11,000 is not always easy.

More than 2,500 participants from more than 100 countries (not including the throngs of international media) make their way to Davos every January by trains, planes and automobiles; in some cases, the VIPs arrive in helicopters.

For the majority of visitors, Zurich International Airport is the first point of landfall in Switzerland. Getting from the airport to the temporary economic mecca of the world can take up to three hours depending on what mode of transportation you choose.

(Read more: It's the US, Not Europe, Discussed at Davos)

A train ride runs about three hours, but it's a scenic journey through the Swiss Alps. By car, it is a windy, snowy, one-lane, two-hour drive south. On the other hand, by helicopter (the most expensive way to get from Zurich to Davos) is a 30-minute flight.

Traffic and pedestrians walk down the main thoroughfare in Davos, Switzerland.
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Traffic and pedestrians walk down the main thoroughfare in Davos, Switzerland.

A spokesman for a helicopter transport company said they are charging 4,900 Swiss Francs ($5,200) for up to four passengers. The reason for the expense is that Davos does not normally have a helicopter landing pad, so a temporary one is built – and landing fees are steep.

Once you do arrive in Davos, the highest-altitude city in Europe at 5,120 feet, you need to make it through what is known as "The Bubble" -- the security bubble that is. There, hundreds of Swiss Police and members of the Army stand by to make sure you have a passport and an invitation letter from the forum which serve as your ticket to this exclusive gathering.

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