We are continuing our LPI rubric of interviews. This time we talk to Levon Poghosyan, an Armenian who lives in Germany. He brings us a rarely seen dose of humour which only proves that he is not taking travel all that seriously, but instead he chooses to make it fun. We hope to give you a glimpse of this traveller’s spirit and bring some much needed smiles to your faces.
In Namibia – Waving the Namibian flag
Levon, please introduce yourself. Where do you come from and how much do you travel in general?
I’m a software engineer from Armenia. I was born in the capital Yerevan, but with the strong privilege of having ancestors from the second largest city Gyumri 🙂 (more on this later).
Before the pandemic I was hitting personal records of visiting 15 new countries in a year.
Now, hah, 4-5… but the tendency is good, it is slowly but confidently growing.
Smile mood in Swakopmund, Namibia
You now live in Germany. How did this influence your life? Are you travelling only with your Armenian passport?
Germany influenced me a lot ! Especially when I frequently got slightly overdosed with Bavarian beer like Weissbier 🙂
But also on the travel side, since in the EU there is freedom of movement, I was able to cover most of the European countries without bureaucratic procedures of acquiring visas.
99.99% of all of my travels have been done with an Armenian passport.
Fun fact – As a lot of countries require a visa from Armenian citizens my passports got pretty quickly full with visas and stamps.
So I’ve developed a strategy on how to save pages in my passport,
I just put a sticker in my passport pointing to places where it can be stamped 😉
P.S. This helped a lot
How did you start travelling and how did being an Armenian influence this? What kind of obstacles did you encounter because of that, if any?
I started traveling when one of my friends persuaded me to travel with him to a couple of countries, then I realized that traveling was such a cool way to refresh. Remember I am a software engineer who is sitting 99.99% of his time in front of a screen and slamming keys on the keyboard 🙂
As the number of visited countries increased, I thought that I should be somewhat special in having the prestige of being in so many countries with an Armenian passport, so I found NomadMania and started quickly filling in the places I’ve visited.
After I finished filling my profile, unfortunately I found myself to be just the third most traveled Armenian based on the number of visited UN countries. After this humiliation I’ve developed an ultimate desire to be the greatest Armenian traveler in the World, kidding 😉
Beside the bureaucratic procedures of getting visas there is no other obstacle that I’ve faced.
Looking into distance in Sevilla, Spain
Do you have any specific travel goals and what are they?
Sure ! To be the greatest Armenian traveler of all time, kidding again 😉
The real target is to learn by squeezing the maximum out of life. Every single country in the world has its own specifics, architecture, people, communication culture, nature etc.
I’ll just list some of the things that I try to learn.
How do people communicate?
For example in Japan or India communication context is complex, in the UK similarly but people are more sarcastic, at the same time in the US it is completely opposite, people are maximally simple with the communication context.
How are the road signs different ?
For example in Namibia they are so nicely integrated with the colors of surrounding nature .
How are car number plates different?
For example in Indonesia they have a black background, but in Cyprus they might have red background.
And many more 🙂
Pointing with finger in Petra, Jordan
Pointing with finger in Cape Town, South Africa
How often do you travel these days? The pandemic is slowly letting its grip of all of us and of the travel industry as well. Do you feel more inclined to travel now or did you travel as much even during the pandemic?
Every month as of now (March) in 2022, I’m inclined to travel more as I still need to show the world who is the greatest Armenian traveller. Kidding, sorry this is the last time 🙂
During the culmination of the pandemic, I tried to fulfil another ambitious goal of visiting every single city in Bavaria, which was successfully accomplished last year.
Me and my balloon in Rome, Italy
What are your biggest travel interests? Where do you go before you go everywhere else?
The biggest interest is to identify the authentic specifics of a particular country.
In the beginning, I normally go to NomadMania, select the country and try to visit every region listed in that particular country.
Then I go to my wife and try to persuade her to join me on the trip. Unfortunately, she does not always agree to join as she is lacking some adventurous qualities deep inside, but overall she is a good person 😉
Pointing with finger in Deadvlei, Namibia
What were some of the biggest surprises – good or bad, that you encountered on your travels so far?
Most of my surprises are good. For example, just recently I was surprised to find how safe it was to travel in South Africa, the hype which has been generated by the media is not really matching with reality.
There were of course somewhat peculiar experiences as well, for example in country X I have been approached by a suspicious character asking for money, I looked at him with a serious face and let him know that I have already been robbed before he approached me. Luckily he left me alone, although I think he was just a beggar, who knows 🙂
Selfie with penguins in South Africa
You have a travel blog where you give very simple and yet so unique view of the places and countries that you visit. Do you do this only for your own pleasure? How did you start this project?
That is where I document country specifics 🙂
I strongly believe that there are individuals who would be interested in such specifics on our planet.
Although unfortunately, my posts are not getting as many reads as I would prefer, I don’t give up, the time of triumph is still in the future!
Also, I do it for the sake of leaving something for future generations.
I also run a channel on YouTube in Armenian. The channel is about the specifics of places that I visit.
Crystallized coast of the Dead Sea
How did your general view of the world change with travelling?
The change of general view in simple words would be that 99.99% of people are kind.
Before traveling I might have said it is 50%-50%, but that’s not true.
And I strongly believe that all troubles of the world are caused by just 0.01% bad people.
My dream car and me in Iceland
My actual car and me in Iceland
What are some absolute highlights that you would recommend to people who visit Armenia to go and see?
Easy! Go to Gyumri!
It is the cultural capital of Armenia and the second-largest city. It is an extraordinarily fantastic city and is a must-visit place when travelling in Armenia.
Gyumri is the birthplace of many major Armenian poets, artists, sportsmen and scientists. Almost all classical Armenian movies were shot in Gyumri.
Simple statistics from sports – Gyumri has a population of roughly 120,000, and currently has generated 12 world and Olympic champions, whereas some countries with a population of more than a billion fail to achieve similar results.
Gyumri is the cradle of the world, simply others pretend to not know it 😉
Me and the Tower of Belem – Lisbon, Portugal
We have a signature question that we ask all of our guests: if you could invite 4 people from any era to dinner, who would your guests be and why?
I would not invite any celebrity or historical figure as making such a bold invitation makes me feel somewhat “selfish/arrogant” so I’ll stay humble and practical 🙂
So I’ll invite:
- With your potential +1 in order to thank you for such an opportunity to express my purpose of hitting the road for ambitious trips.
- My wife, someone has to make a great Armenian Dolma at the end to eat 🙂
My friend, who will guarantee a great atmosphere, who has a unique ability to make a lively atmosphere out of a vacuum 🙂
Statue of Nelson Mandela in Pretoria, South Africa