I arrived in Zurich bright and early – certainly early, and not really so bright, having left home at four in the morning to get to Heathrow, and fly into Zurich in time for the working day. There is always a swim, of course. Today it is Strandbad Tiefenbrunnen. This is the place for me that makes Zurich so open, so good – there are other places, of course, but this is the first place I ever swam in Zurich now 45 years ago, and I choose to think the lake has a trace of the shape of my body. Coming back, I think nonsensically that if I try to keep my body in shape Lake Zurich will remember me, and be a friend. It can so easily be not a friend, when the wind and Autumn rain drive up the lake to the grounded end that is Zurich. Today is friendly – some Autumn days can be challenging. Tiefenbrunnen, with a rocky front, steps into some of the clearest water, with the Alps in the background (on a clear day – not so much today). It is well appointed, with changing rooms and showers, a lawn, bathing platforms and pontoons. There are a few people swimming today, swimming into the Autumn, one of them into the winter. Proudly, she tells me of the distances she has swum. She tells me she is from Ticino, on the border with Italy, where the lake and the water are so much nicer than here… I struggle to imagine it, but agree it must be so. Mental note – must visit Ticino. This time, the closest I got was to buy some red maize polenta grown in Ticino. Even there, the bag of posh maize meal got me pulled up at airport security when leaving Zurich. The fine grain made it look like liquid. The young security guard turned out to be a foodie, loved Ticino, loves her swimming, but… But Lake Zug is better. She comes from Zug. I struggle to imagine it, but again, I agree it must be so. Mental note- must visit Zug too.
A kilometre today is decent, long enough to feel the chill, earn some cake. The place I want to go to I have never been to before, but have passed, looking in, looking at the images of people who have taken coffee, hot chocolate, cake, maybe schnapps. Vladimir Illich Lenin, Albert Einstein, Frank Wedekind (who wrote the Lulu cycle of plays, which formed the basis of the libretto of Alban Berg’s opera Lulu), Somerset Maugham (he worked for the British Intelligence Service in Switzerland during The First World War), and James Joyce. I imagine James Joyce to have swum at Tiefenbrunnen – how could he not have? While Sandycove is featured in Ulysses, much of Ulysses was written and was finished near Tiefenbrunnen. The Café Odeon was no light-weight place; the cake should therefore be good.