The year is 1913. Tout le monde is at the gare de l'est. Aristocrats, diplomats, the demi-monde. The ladies resplendent in pearls, tiaras and decorative feathers. Pomp and glitter wherever one looks. London-paris-vienna-venice-constantinople. Decorative elegance and fur-trimmed luxury.
In the orient-express of the compagnie international des wagons-lits... Johann Hefel has always dreamed of going on this journey. - and of seeing Adèle again... He boards the grand express.
Five o'clock tea with sweet scones. Johann exchanges sporty tweed for elegant cloth. English tailoring courtesy of savile row. Cocktail hour in the dining car. Ice cubes clink in crystal glasses. Gertrude stein talks about "tender buttons". Johann explains the art of craft: "finest craftsmanship for luxury sleep". 100 % made in Austria. Sir John and countess Mizzi listen spellbound.
The flair of the belle époque puts Johann in the mood for champagne. Madame estelle, the femme fatale in rustling silks, is dining vis-à-vis. Johann has a rendezvous. Elysium -these extravagant bed covers and pillows amuse him greatly! "Pure cashmere?" - asks the artful Estelle, smiling coquettishly.
Johann revels in the refinement of the decor. Textile wallpapers, marble, crystal tableware and silver. Jugendstil and opulence in the luxury train. Johann thinks about Adèle. Bedded in downy comfort. So beautiful as she sleeps. ‘the soul is a vast country’ comes to mind. Silk sheets, covers shimmering like mother-of-pearl, decorative stitching and greek meander motifs. Scattered petals, lavish passion. - oh Adèle!
Wind from the south, sea breeze, lagoon, islands, lido... Johann breathes the salty air, luxuriates in the scent of fresh cotton and cool linen. Soothed by the rhythm of the powerful locomotives and the gentle swaying of his elegant compartment, he dreams of the canal grande in a rocking gondola. His beautiful companion rests on a bed of wild silk. She smiles. An azure blue butterfly shimmers on the blossoms of her dress.
Jasmine, cinnamon, turmeric, pepper, cloves - beguiling spices, a heady floral perfume in the scent bazaar of the orient and occident. Johann sits in the magnificent railway hotel pera palas and savours delicious pastries and sips black mocha. A sophisticated clientele in tailcoats and evening gowns, with top hats, turbans and ostrich feathers, fill the opulent hall. Footmen pile up the finest pillows: the sultan and his retinue are departing - with the "king of trains, the train of kings".