Today, I finished 34 years of solar cycles, and began my 35th. My birthday present was waiting for me in Vienna's American Express Office in the form of a Eurailpass — an item of luxury that would have made the preceding month's adventures exceedingly more excellent. Jo Blitch, my travel agent, had come through and mailed me the card that could only be bought for $190 in the U.S. of A. Now I had the freedom to stop and go in 13 countries wherever whimsy took me. And so I did, but first...


If the card was my birthday present, then my birthday cake was Fräulein Knips at the Belvedere. Belvedere Palace contains the Österreichische Galerie, home, at that time, to at least 17 Gustav Klimts including his most famous kissing couple. His portrait of Sonja Knips, however, is the one that blew me away. I had seen photos of it before, but they never captured the subtleties of its color. And besides, when you look at a photo of a painting, you cannot see how the artist touched the canvas. Touch in painting is as important as color, but most of us overlook this dimension because we are not allowed close inspection.

Klimt slides

Miss Knips dress was of the diaphanous fashion of the times. You could see through it and so could Klimt. His method was to capture the facial expression first, and then gesture draw directly on the canvas each lady naked, most likely without them knowing it, using only his imagination via their transparent gowns. This was all foreplay. Can I see what you are doing Herr Klimt? Not quite yet, dear... Then he would stroke on their dresses with such loving care, caressing their flesh virtually, if not virtuously, with his brush, and finish off the painting with a masterful portrait, thus transforming his kinkiness from mere perversion into the sublime. You can look now, Fräulein. Oooo...Herr Klimt. Gustav probably mumbled to himself, Sobald Sie sehen, eine Frau nackt ... Sie wollen sie alle sehen! [Once you see one woman wanna see em all!] Women have never accepted this aspect of the male psyche. Perhaps they never will.


Although my Eurailpass did not officially begin until July 2nd, I hopped an evening train to Munich and slept comfyly hoping the conductor would not check my card till we crossed into Germany sometime after midnight. Luckily, no passports needed stamping. Wien ⇒ Linz ⇒ Salzburg ⇒ Munchen ⇒