The October sky is grey and dank and the Zürich morning still half dark as I emerge into Weinplatz. The first leaves are scattered around the square, and at this early hour the weather looks unpromising.
The summer’s smug geraniums still adorn the hotel windowboxes, but they’re looking limp and vaguely threatened now. Autumn is brief here in Switzerland, and the winter’s not all that far away.
Behind me, the River Limmat is swirling gently northwards on its way to join my old friend the Aare near Brugg, and then onwards to join the Rhine for Basel, Germany and the sea. Tall churches and pretty wharfsides beckon beside the river, but for now I leave the waterfront behind me.
I know my way round here, in the biggest small country in the world.
It’s 6 am and raining. Mid-summer has somehow ended in the night, and a different kind of July stands waiting for me as I step outside.
The street is chill and almost empty. A fine wet shimmer is wrapped around the tramtracks as I cross them, and even now, in my first few strides, I can feel the morning washing clean the heavy dreams of last night’s dinner.
I turn my collar to the cool and damp, and kick my heels slowly east along the lakeshore.
The first minutes of a run like this are always hardest. A body short on sleep but not so short on years is slower than it should be to get going.
My feet are heavy, and my stomach feels heavier still, with a not so faint taste of Swiss Gamay red lurking somewhere down inside.
I raise my eyes and look around. Across the grey lake, the city lies serene and timeless. Geneva is exactly as I remember her. Unchanged, if just a little wetter.