Leon Logothetis, the host of the reality show “Amazing Adventures of a Nobody,” which airs internationally on the National Geographic Channel, and on Fox Reality in the States, is at it again. After traipsing through England and the U.S. for less than five dollars a day in his first two seasons, the "Urban Survival Guide" has now set off from Paris to begin his third season, where he will attempt to cross Europe and arrive in Moscow using only his limited resources and the help of strangers. Leon will be sending us dispatches from his travels as he films the season, and IT editor Janelle Nanos spoke with him as he prepared for his journey.
Hi Leon, it sounds like you’ve got a big trip planned. Can you tell us a bit more about how the show works?
It's pretty simple: I will receive five euros a day – that’s for food accommodation and travel. I cannot be given money – people can buy me food, a hotel room, or let me stay with them – they can show generosity. The crew are not allowed to help me, they stay in luxury hotels, drive a Volvo, and they eat whenever they want. There are five lifelines that are held by the director: 20 euros, a train ticket, free food, a tent, and a mystery envelope.
What made you decide that you wanted to embark on such a journey?
I used to work in the city of London in the shipping business, but that wasn’t my scene. Then I watched The Motorcycle Diaries and something clicked inside. I was inspired by what these two guys did. It’s made me want to connect with people. I never wanted to be behind the desk. I wanted to rely on the kindness of strangers and put myself on the same situations these two guys were in.
I can only imagine some of the situations you’ve found yourself in. How did your first trip through England work out?
One of the most memorable moments was when I was in North Wales. I arrived in a town called Banger at 8 p.m., and it was empty. I didn’t have anywhere to spend the night, so I went to the police station and told them, “I don’t have anywhere to stay. Can I sleep in a cell?” They said no [to a cell]. I ended up staying the night on the floor without a bed – no chair, no heating, just the floor. They gave me some old police jackets to lie on. It was one of my lowest moments. I remember asking myself, “Why are you doing this to yourself?”
But I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of pleasant surprises as well.
During the second season, I was in Indianapolis and met a woman who was in the city for a wedding. When she found out about my trip she offered me her house in Chicago. I said, “Ok, who’s going to be in your house?” And she said, “No one. Here are my keys. Now these are my only set, so leave them under the flower pot when you leave.” She gave me her only set of keys. This lady, Julie, was the nicest person I’ve ever met. She gave me hope for the human race.
What hopes do you have for this season?
Assuming that I don’t have a nervous breakdown at the Eiffel Tower, our plan is to go to a new city each night. We’re not going straight from Paris to Moscow – we’ll be traveling to Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Rome, Venice, Berlin – and hit cities in 12 countries in all. I’m just worried about being arrested at the Russian border by a ranger carrying a Kalashnikov.
How have these trips changed your attitude about travel?
One of the most important things I’ve learned is the importance of the human connection. People will help you. If you can bring yourself into their lives there’s a certain kinship, it lubricates things and helps you get from point A to B. The less money you have the more you have to connect with people. Now that I’ve done this wonderful traveling I have a better understanding and appreciation of local cultures. When I go and stay at a nice hotel [when not on the show] – it’s a little bit sterile. Even though it’s a television show, it’s a life’s journey. The trips are part of me.
Photo: Shankly Productions