That’s Walt Christophersen reflecting on his good fortune in landing the best job he ever had – reporting for a TV newsmagazine produced in Germany for broadcast on 160 PBS stations. His memoir, A Temporary European takes us through his early adjustments in Cologne, like finding an apartment and buying a car, to the point where much of Europe becomes familiar territory.
His assignments take him to the Normandy beaches and the once-devastated city of Dresden to cover key wartime anniversaries, as well as Iceland, where there’s a controversy over killing whales. He also confronts gypsy pickpockets in Paris and tracks down Sherlock Holmes in Switzerland.
"Whenever I saw American tourists in the Munich train station fumbling with maps, guidebooks and luggage, I thought how terrific it was that I had all the time in the world to experience Europe yet I could sleep in my own bed most nights."
Imagine sailing through the outer islands of Yap on a copra boat for three weeks, exploring isolated atolls most people never heard of, all for a fare of $56.60. An extra $5 a day buys you endless meals of corned beef and rice. You bunk in a room with 10 beds. No charge for the shower, which is turned off for 12 days to save water.
By Ship, Train, Bus, Plane & Sometimes Hitchhiking also describes outer island journeys through the Marshall Islands and Fiji. And readers tag along as Walt hitchhikes around Tahiti, attends a royal birthday party in Tonga and surveys war debris on the shattered island of Peliliu.
Feeding his great affinity for the sea, he heads to other parts of the world to sail down the Amazon and up the coast of Norway. In the longest journey of his life, he travels for nearly seven months from Beirut to Tokyo, witnessing Afghanistan at peace and Vietnam at war.