About Me

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I am married to my loving husband for more than 38 years now. I am a mother to 3 beautiful children, until 11 years ago when I lost my youngest son. Since then my life is forever altered but yet unbroken....

My Travel Journal

"There isn't much I haven't shared with you along the road and through it all there'd always be tomorrow's episode" - Elton John

I started traveling around the world since early 80s when I had the opportunity to combine business trips with vacations. Then later when my rezeki is in abundance, there were numerous other trips along the way for vacations, most of the time with hubby and the kids when the timing is right. I have also started to compile the journal and photo-pages covering almost more than 25 years of world wide travel. Some destinations I visited just once, others many times. Many of those places are the obvious famous places people would like to visit but some, the casual traveler doesn't even think to try. I have placed links to my travel at the side bar of my personal page, My Life Reflections, and will be updating them from time to time.

My wish is to continue my travel and complete circumnavigate the globe, insyaAllah…

Saturday, 31 May 2014

2014 - Helsinki, Finland

"Climb the mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you..."

(The Sibelius Monument, Helsinki)

Day 1: 21 May 2014
(KL – Istanbul)

We will be away for a 10-day tour of Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Moscow. And as usual we travelled very light. We took a taxi to KLIA early and had our dinner in KLIA before we boarded the 11:15 flight to Istanbul.

(Light travellers)

Day 2: 22 May 2014
(Istanbul – Helsinki)
Hotel: Holiday Inn Helsinki West - Ruoholahti

We landed in Istanbul International Airport at 05:35 and had ample time to perform our Subuh prayers before we boarded the 08:04 flight to Helsinki. When we arrived at Helsinki International Airport at 12:05, we were met by our tour guide and a 40-seater sightseeing coach. As it was already time for lunch, we straight away went to Habibista Saa Myos Lounasta Restaurant, an Egyptian Restaurant in the middle of town for a sumptuous lunch.

(A comfortable sight-seeing coach)
(The National Museum)
(A hungry traveller waiting for his lunch)
(A choice of lamb kebabs or steaks)

Helsinki is the capital city of Finland and one of the amazing cities situated by the Baltic Sea with a 100-kilometre-long shoreline and around 300 islands. The compact, vibrant city is both highly cultural and incredibly relaxing.

After lunch we went for a panoramic tour including the Helsinki Senate Square. main building University of Helsinki, Helsinki Cathedral, Government Palace, Helsinki Presidential Palace, Parliament House, Monumental Railroad Station, Olympic Stadium and the Open Air Market for souvenirs of local arts and handicrafts.

(A walk in the woods)
(Skimpy summer wear on a hot day)
(A famous musician architecture in the park)

The Sibelius Monument is dedicated to one of the most famous Finnish composers. Here artistic fusion of hundreds of stainless steel pipes create different impressions. It is one of the most visited attractions in Helsinki.

(A summer visitor, recreational island destinations)
(Island and boat restaurants)

Idyllic island restaurants are a vital part of Helsinki’s unique restaurant culture. The archipelago of Helsinki provides a beautiful setting for summer dining. Ferries to the island restaurants operate from the beginning of May to the end of September.

(The busy Marina)
 (The Senate Square with the monument of the Russian Tsar Alexander II)

The Neo-classical Senate Square in Helsinki is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful urban squares in the world. In the heart of Helsinki one can still feel the presence of both Russia and Sweden.

Otaniemi campus is a major work and the greatest master of modernism in Finland. The university is praised for it's relation to nature. The buildings in Helsinki have different architectural times ranging from Neo-classical to Art-Noveau quarters and to present day glass cubes.

(The Parliament House - a small demonstration)

The Parliament House is an architectural style combining Neoclassicism with early twentieth century modernism. It is a combination of simplified columns and balusters with simplified planar geometry. The exterior is red Kalvola granite. The façade is lined by fourteen columns with Corinthian capitals.

We visited The Helsinki Olympic Stadium, located in the Töölö district about 2 kilometres from the center of the Finnish capital Helsinki. It is the largest stadium in the country, nowadays mainly used for hosting sports events and big concerts. The stadium is best known for being the center of activities in the 1952 Summer Olympics.

(Local scene - Policemen on bicycles)

Day 3: 23 May 2014
(Helsinki - Suomenlinna Island)
Hotel: Holiday Inn Helsinki West - Ruoholahti

We had a heavy breakfast in the hotel. Today we will be joining the many tourists to board the ferry to the fortress island of Suomenlinna.

(School children waiting to board the ferry)
(Ferries to many recreational islands)
(A 20-minute ferry ride to the island)

Until 1918 Suomenlinna Island is an uninhabited sea fortress built on six islands which now forms part of the city of Helsinki, the capital of Finland. Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage site popular with tourists and locals, who enjoy it as a picturesque picnic site. Originally named Sveaborg (Fortress of Svea), or Viapori as called by Finnish-speaking Finns, it was renamed Suomenlinna (Castle of Finland) in 1918 for patriotic and nationalistic reasons, though it is sometimes known by its original name. In Swedish-speaking and historical context, the name Sveaborg is always used.

(Arriving at the island jetty)
(The many attractions of Suomenlinna)
(An old Cathedral)
(Fortification against enemies)
(A visitor taking a nap under the sun)
(Small boutique cafes and bistros)
(Arriving on mainland and ready for lunch)

The Presidential Palace in Helsinki, is one of the official residences of the President of the Republic of Finland. It is situated on the north side of Esplanadi, overlooking Market Square.

(A sight-seeing ferry - the Presidential Palace in the background)

The Helsinki mosque has been funded by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The dimensions of the new mosque are enormous by Finnish standards. The 700-square-meter mega-mosque is located adjacent to a metro station in the eastern Helsinki district of Mellunmäki and features a massive prayer room for 1,000 worshippers.

We had the opportunity to visit Masjid Al-Imam, a smaller mosque situated in the suburb of Helsinki and performed our prayers there together with the Imam.

(Al-Iman Masjid in the suburb)
The Market Square is a central square in Helsinki, and one of the most famous market places and tourist attractions in the city. The Market Square is located near the centre of Helsinki, at the eastern end of Esplanadi and bordering the Baltic Sea to the south and Katajanokka to the east. The Helsinki City Transport maintains an all-year-round ferry link from the Market Square to Suomenlinna, and in the summer there are also private companies providing ferry cruises, both to Suomenlinna and other nearby islands.

From spring to autumn, the Market Square is bustling with activity with vendors selling fresh Finnish food and souvenirs. There are also many outdoor cafés at the square.

(A parade by the Open Market Square)
(Fashion show at the Esplanade)
(Door gifts and souvenirs from the department store)
(Live show all day long)
(The Esplanade, serves as a promenade for tourists and residents)
(Spending the evening at the Esplanade)
(Meeting Bosnian girls doing charity work)
(Big bikes parked in a row)

Day 4: 24 May 2014
(Helsinki – St. Petersburg)

We had a full breakfast at the hotel restaurant. This morning our local guide and coach were ready to transport us from the hotel to the train station. This morning we checked out of the hotel early as we will be taking the train to St. Petersburg.

The Monumental Helsinki Central Railroad Station is a widely recognised landmark in Kluuvi, part of central Helsinki, Finland, and the focal point of public transport in the Greater Helsinki area. The station is used by approximately 200,000 passengers per day, making it Finland's most-visited building. It serves as the point of origin for all trains in the local VR commuter rail network, as well as for a large proportion of long-distance trains in Finland. The station also hosts the Rautatientori metro station, which is the busiest station of the Helsinki Metro.

(The Central Railway Station)
(Waiting for the train to arrive)

The Allegro train from Helsinki to St Petersburg departed sharp at 10:00. The train is operated by a joint venture between the state railways of Finland and Russia and is called ‘Karelian Trains’. The high speed trains use an advanced version of the Alstom electric multiple unit, a type of train where each car has its own locomotion, the combined power of which allows the train to move fast, speeding up and slowing down much more safely. The Allegro train achieves a top speed of 220 kilometers per hour and tilt when they turn around a curve.

(While waiting for the train)
(A souvenir cap from Helsinki)

On the Finnish side, the Allegro High-Speed Train makes five stops before reaching the Finnish passport control and customs station at Vainikkala, while on the Russian side, the route is a direct express between St. Petersburg’s Finland Station and Vyborg. Our passports were checked by the Finnish Immigration Officers on the train. The train trip from Helsinki to St. Petersburg took a little more than 3 1/2 hours.

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