A chat with Euro traveller extraordinaire, Devin
I have spent the past few years enviously eyeing up Devin’s calendar. Whether it is catching the Northern Lights in Iceland, hiking up old ruins in Montenegro or weekend-ing in a tumbling Scottish castle with her crew of travel buddies, she is never far from her next adventure. Having headed out on over 60 trips visiting 21 countries since she started to call London ‘home’ three years ago, I decided it was high time to learn from an expert on where we should head to next in Europe…
Devin, thanks so much in advance for sharing your travel wisdom with me. Your instagram is always stunning. Tell me, if you had to choose...could you whittle down your experiences to your three favourite trips?
D: First up, it would be Montenegro. We were there for five days over Easter, and each day it just got better and better. The landscape is unlike anything I had ever seen - you have these stunning, snow-capped mountains behind the city and blue ocean in front of all these beautiful, old buildings. There are a bunch of gorgeous seaside towns - each one with its own feel and vibe. It was gorgeous, it felt undiscovered, with incredible seafood and some of my favourite views in Europe.
I also loved my trip to Israel & Jordan. I have never learned so much on a trip in my life. Israel is just incredible, with Jerusalem being home to some of the holiest religious sites in the world. None of my friends and I knew too much about religion before, but we left thinking ‘man, we should have studied theology’. The history just blew my mind, and I’d definitely recommend doing a walking tour. Tel Aviv was amazing too - the beaches, the weather, the food, the bars. I would go back in a heartbeat. In Jordan we only visited Petra, but it was just a breathtaking site - definitely try to get here if you’re going to Israel. I loved the entire trip and never felt unsafe.
Finally, I adored Croatia. We started at the Plitvice Lakes National Park and spent the day hiking and exploring the grounds. We were super active the entire time, going mountain biking and kayaking out to an island off the coast the next day. We went cliff jumping, and picked fresh figs, and everyone in Zadar where we stayed gathered along the water every night to watch the sun set. There’s a sea organ right on the water, and the whole scene is just a picture.
What has been your biggest unexpected surprise?
Montenegro, definitely. I had no expectations and it blew me away.
Italy. Every city I’ve been to there is magical. And the food. Skip Naples though (aside from the famous pizza place featured in “Eat, Pray, Love”).
Which city could you keep going back to in Europe?
Amsterdam. I love that you can bike everywhere, the canals are so peaceful and beautiful. The city has a great lifestyle.
I love seeing the sights and getting out, but I also love a relaxing holiday. What are your favourite places to take things a little slower?
Bath in the UK over Christmas one year felt like we were in the movie The Holiday. I also loved Bordeaux for a slower pace - we spent all our time between our chateaux and visiting some of the vineyards. I can’t not share this epic castle we stayed in in Scotland too - there were over 30 of us there, and we played Scottish Highland Games all weekend. It was wonderful.
I travel according to my stomach. Best food moments?
Ok, so this sounds a bit weird - but we had pistachio yoghurt in Croatia when we were there and it was the best thing I have ever tasted. When we were in Montenegro, we tried to find it again - I screamed with delight when we spied it in the supermarket aisles!
The hummus in Tel Aviv definitely deserves a shout-out, and when I was in Sorrento I did a pasta cooking course with an Italian nonna. I highly recommend the course.
Tell me about an experience you’ll never forget:
Moving to London, as it afforded me all of these experiences.
What has been the biggest let-down?
That would have to be Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. We found really cheap flights, and as they’re four hours away from London, we thought it would be an awesome beach holiday. But it was cold and windy, and lacked charm. It’s really just a series of malls. All the restaurants are in the malls, there’s nothing very local about it. We left thinking that we could have flown to Italy for better everything.
Here’s a challenge: which five places would you add to a newbies itinerary to Europe?
Start in London. London is magical. You can do all the touristy things, lay in a park, hang out in a pub. You really feel the essence of London so quickly, and there are endless things to do.
Then head to Italy, to Cinque Terre for a hike along the coast. Also while you’re in Italy, scoot down to Rome. It’s tricky choosing just five places!
Next up I would say visit Lisbon. The whole vibe of the place is relaxed and perfect. Head to Pharmacia for dinner, then take a drink and wander down to the look out over the town. Take in the views, listen to the live music, eat late...it’s a perfect European city.
Then if it is someone’s first and maybe only time in Europe, you should add the stalwarts of Paris and Barcelona. Both have so much to offer.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Croatia either. It’s tricky between choosing places versus places you know you ‘should’ see when visiting Europe. Make this list longer!
Any other under-the-radar places you feel deserve a shout-out?
The Algarve region in Portugal. Norway and the Nordics in general - the outdoor activities you can come across are endless. Also head to Lake Bled - it feels like you are going on summer camp.
Any general travel tips?
I always travel with my Away suitcase. Definitely know your luggage restrictions before you fly, and if you’re a foreigner based in the UK, sign up to the registered traveller program to get you through customs quickly.
Favourite thing to travel with?
My neck pillow, eye mask and ear plugs. I have zero chill when I travel. I know I will sleep on a flight if I have these things. Also don’t forget a power converter.
Some favourite websites for travel?
What’s next on your European travel list?
Greece! I can’t wait to go one day.
Your travel rituals are well-honed. What are your favourite things to do in a new place?
I always watch the sunset everywhere I go. I love going out for a run, or doing something active. My friends enjoy that too. Lastly - free walking tours!
Thank you, Devin! I now have approximately a dozen more places to add to my growing list of things to see in Europe…