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muffins i would never forget

29 Mar

I have been craving for chocolate muffins for a long time. Everytime i see them, i will be stuck in a dilemma of whether i should eat it or not because it might not be halal. So of course i continue on my quest  for halal muffins.

Oh during the social workers day symposium, there were alot of  apple and nut muffins simply delicious! But nothing beats chocolate right 😉

The last time i had the most delicious chocolate muffins was in London. Well i bought it there but i ate it at the train station in Finland.

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Tampere Airport

I reached Finland from London (met lovely Eli there) at 11plus. The Tampere airport closes after our flight landed so i cant spend the night there nor can i get a train back to Lappeenranta (my town).

So i took this shuttle bus just like most people to the train station. I had a friend from the trip; we met on the way to London and on the way back. She was going quite far north where she lives, an eight hour train ride – which explains why there was a night train for her so she will reach in the morning.

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Tampere train station – 12.30am.

I on the other hand, did not have a direct train to my town so it complicated things even more. The earliest train back was 4.40am. It was 12am. An almost 5 hour wait is no joke when you’re all alone and the train station looked like it was about to close. I was afraid the station officers would think i was a homeless girl just trying to sleep in the train station so i exited the station into the cold freezing night. Furthermore, i didn’t want to miss the train if the doors weren’t unlocked at 4.40am.

It was kind of the worst decision i made based on my guts. *i always thought i could trust my guts but it failed me this once*

Let me give you a picture of the train station.

Entrance ———–> train station(enclosed area) ————–>stairs to platforms (open area) ————->platforms

(entered with my friend at 12am and stayed inside till they started closing the station)

The words in red was where i was for the 5 hours.

Tampere train station – 1.30am.

I walked up and down for a while looking for the best place to rest (i.e) just sit and wait for my train. *couldn’t wait to get home* I climbed the long flight of stairs up to the platform and looked around. No one really except a few train technician and cargo train people. Lonely, tired, hungry, sleepy…*also wanted to jamaa’ my prayer of maghrib and Isyak*

I found a few card boards to sit on because the place was quite dirty.

I relieved myself of my heavy bags onto the card boards and sat on the steps. Being trained by my sister-in-law when i travel, there is always some snacks/ fruits/ chocolate with me. Being Muslim means not being able to eat most of the food around. Before i left London, i bought a packet of chocolate muffins which i thought was ok to consume just based on the ingredients.

The food and drinks i had with me has to last till i reached Finland.

The chill of the night could be felt in my bones. *luckily i wasn’t as skinny as i am now* I had on a winter coat but i was still freezing. I thought to myself, pacing up and down would help to warm myself but it was of little use. Time was ticking slower than a snail would move.

I sat down. Got up, laid my sejadah and prayed my prayers. After that I had to do something right? I bought a soduku book from the airport with whatever pounds and pence i had left. I decided to do a few puzzles but my fingers were freezing and it felt like it would really stop moving if i didn’t hide them in my jacket. I tried writing my travel journal as well but my hand writing was hideous.

From my travel journal ~

“I am sitting alone on the step leading to platform 4 where my train would arrive in a few hours. I am so so so cold. My fingers would freeze soon. I just prayed Maghrib and Isyak here. The station closes at 1 am,” I wrote on the 16th September 2008 at 1.30am.

Time crawled with little activity. It became colder and colder, i didnt know what else to do to warm myself up.

The Sainsbury chocolate muffins was the highlight of the gloomy morning i had to spend alone, waiting for my train home. It was super-licious!

I thought of what my family would be doing. I thought of why did i put myself in this situation. I thought of a lot of things.

Men frequently walked up and down the stairs going about their work with the trains.

Tampere train station – 4 am.

I heard the screech of the trains. I jumped up, lugged my backpack and climbed the stairs slowly for fear of losing my balance after sitting for so long. Imagine my joy when i realised it was my train! Trains do arrive earlier for some servicing and stuff. Only God knew how badly i yearn for the warmth only the train could offer me then. Hopped onto the train and found myself a seat amongst many sleeping people.

The good thing is one can buy the ticket on the train for the same price 🙂

It took a really long time for my body to be rid of the freezing cold of the morning air.

I prayed my subuh while sitting down in the chugging train at 5 plus when the train was on its way to my next train change.

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Tikkurilla train station – 6.30 am

Waited another hour before my next train back to Lappeenranta. Home sweet home 🙂

I reached Lappeenranta at 9 am.

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It was the kind of cold i would never forget. *shivers*

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Tale of bus from Mostar V

30 Jun

At 5.45pm

Parvin ran towards the ticket office.

Her tale: If you’d give me a chance, i never want to feel the way i felt at that moment.

The lady at the counter just asked me where i wanted to go and she didnt have proper change for Euro and that was all i had! I asked her if the bus has left and she just said platform 7 and that she didnt know. Asked me to wait for the bus outside. So helpless!!! I felt like sitting there and cry!

I stood there in the dark (it was night time by 5pm).

I asked one of the guys whether he knew of the bus for Split left. But he didnt know and said the one there was going somewhere else. I went towards a couple of teenage girls who kept stealing glance at me, actually alot of people do that to me wherever i went. I decided to ask them and they gave me reassurance that bus from Sarajevo will usually arrive at 6pm. That pff* lady who sold me the ticket could have told me that!!!

The headlights of a big bus with the tag , “Sarajevo” on it and imagine my relief! I boarded the bus like a happy child…

Before the bus left Mostar bus station, i almost forgot a postcard i got for Nisa from Sarajevo and i already got the stamp on it but just didnt have the time to post it so I ran down the bus and asked a group of teenage girls to help me post it. They couldn’t understand me so i hand-signaled like crazy! and i had to leave even though i wasnt confident they knew what i was talking about.

FYI: the post card reached Nisa after a month. 🙂

Tale of bus from Mostar IV

29 Jun

At 5.30pm

Parvin reached the carpark of her hostel as she decided what to do.

I contemplated if i should ask a guy who looked like he was waiting for someone…i walked towards the exit of the carpark and looked at my watch which showed 5.35pm.

I backtracked and went ahead to ask him if he could drop me at the bus station which goes to Split, Croatia. ” sure, i am waiting for my brother and when he comes we can go there (with a smile)” He even came out and opened the back door for me to hop in.

His brother came 5 seconds later and off  we went. They didnt ask me any question, just where i was going. Dropped me safely at the bus depot which looked empty. I exclaimed my gratitude repeatedly before i ran for the ticket office to satisfy my burning deisre to know if the bus has left me.

…………………………………………………………………………………..TBC

Tale of bus from Mostar III

28 Jun

At 5.20pm

Parvin reached her hostel and struggled with the keys as she burst through the door and rushed to grab all of her belongings and breezed past the front door.

Her tale: But God looked after me so well, i reached my hostel at 5.20pm. (I cant possibly reach the bus station in 10 minutes!) I was going to walk because i didnt know the number to call a cab. And chances of getting lost yet again was unavoidable, unfortunately.

The Romanian guy i met, told us of his own experience road-tripping from country to country…hitch-hiking! And how he ‘communicated’ with the people to send the message across using hand language (not sign language!)

I have never hitch-hiked in my life, all alone. But the situation i was in warrant for it.  I plucked up enough courage, not that hard to do when my mind was on the critical fact of missing the last bus out to Croatia and a plane the very next morning from there. I asked a couple of ladies in a car in the carpark of my hostel. They looked like i was about to rob them! Argh…i was so in need of help and they brush me off like an insect!

………………………………………………………TBC

Tale of Bus from Mostar II

18 Jun

At 4.30pm

Parvin excused herself so unwillingly from the people she has grown so comfortably with…and walked confidently towards her hostel.

Her tale: I left the restaurant at 4.45pm confident that i would find my way back, i always do.  I left the old, familiar cobbled stones to walk by the road because i thought i was walking in the correct direction. At some point of time, i felt i was right and then it struck me that i might be walking further away from my apartment which might cause me to miss the 5.30pm bus.

There was no one in sight, i couldnt find the number to call for a taxi (i threw it in my huge bag and couldnt find it when i needed it most!). I searched frantically for someone to ask for directions and the first man i saw, could not help as he didnt know where i was going. Blame language barrier! I was afraid i was on the wrong side; the city was divided into 2 – the Bosniaks and Croats along the Neretva river (beautiful turqoise river!)

Time was ticking. Getting lost was the worst thing that could happen to me, travelling all alone! (serve me right) With quite a useless, self-drawn map…chances of finding my way was very slim.

Tale of bus from Mostar I

17 Jun

I think i can write about what i enjoy most even if i have no inspiration to blog about anything else.

And this is especially for dear, dear Adilah.

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I have talked enough about Bosnia I know but i think it’ll never be enough for me. I remember mentioning that I am extremely biased toward Bosnia for God-know-what-reason. Everything about the trip there was puurfect! (with a french accent?)

Made acquintances with many people from all walks of life and how comfortable we were with one another is unexplainable.  In Sarajevo and Mostar especially i met stranger-turned-friends from before i entered till i left Bosnian land, made it so extremely special.

I had a night and half a day in quiet, beautiful Mostar before i had to leave for Split, Croatia. I narrated how i met this big group of people and how we just clicked so well and i went around with them, had cevapi before i bid goodbye to my dear, temporary companions heart filled with grief.

This time, unlike all other times, i was running extremely late. There was no one else to depend on if i missed my flight- there goes all my long, carefully thought of plans and bookings…money will fly away just like that.

Situation: Parvin has to catch her 5.30pm bus to Split, Croatia or the next one would be at 11am the next day. (FYI, it is a 5 hour journey)

At 4.00pm

Parvin just arrived at the bus station with her new friends from beautiful Blagaj. They decided to bid farewell to a fellow travelling companion who was on her way to Dubrovnik, a popular tourist destination in Croatia. Afterwhich, being in Bosnia warrants for having cevapi again. Parvin misses meat so much after being in Europe for quite sometime and surviving mostly on bread on her journey in Eastern europe so she couldnt not have cevapi before leaving Bosnia for good, can she? 

Thoughts of Parvin: It wouldnt kill to have a few bites before i have to rush for the bus 🙂

……………………………………..TBC

it happened so naturally, i liked how it went

5 May

As i walked around aimlessly in the Centrale station of Milan, looking for the tourist information center. It is kind of the first place i look for besides food that is, when i arrive at my destination.

The problem is no one could help me. On my way from the airport to the main station, an Italian guy sat next to me and he was telling me to be careful when he found out i was travelling alone. For you information, i started the conversation with him, with my stupid question, ” do you know if those are the alps?” Because i couldnt believe my eyes, i wanted someone to confirm for me that the mountains i was seeing was actually the ALPS, though from a distance.

I actually went around, up and down, in and out of the station till i got the information that the Tourist Information Center was in Duomo station which can be reached by metro. I was taken by surprise that the ticket was only an Euro – after being in Venice, i assumed Italy was expensive. When i came out of the metro station, i was shocked because i didnt expect to see such a huge building before i actually climb out of the underground station – it was magnificient the Duomo (Dome). It is considered one of the main attractions in Milan.

I bumped into alot of people and tourist and those people who sold you the wrist band thing which they will trick you by saying it is free then ask for money. I heard about them from Rachel when we saw some of them in Paris. I tried to avoid any contact with them, not even eye contact!

I wandered around the area thinking of what to do, i was tired to walk around with my load on my back and there was supposedly nothing much so all i needed was a place to rest where no one would disturb me. I walked towards the shopping area and bumped into someone; and that brush of fate allowed him to be my tour guide and companion for the day. He started by saying salam, and I had to answer him. That spark off the conversation in Italian English- French. Your guess is good as mine as to whether or not there is such a language.

When i think back of how he was a most hospitable host, getting nothing in return for his kind gesture…i am thankful to God. I went from Duomo to castles to street shops to Centrale again and Novatar all day. Novatar is on the outskirts of Milano and we went by public train. I got to see an Italian home and neighbourhood. To an outsider, it might seem like i was out of my mind but as a traveller, you’d see it from my angle and understand.

I saw the look on his face when i took the last bus to the airport for my morning flight to Bratislava. My gut feeling has led me through good decisions thus far and i hope it goes on that way because sometime you dont have all the time in the world to make your decision.

International Friendship Day

17 Apr

Well in the spirit of it, i decided to share about my international friends.

First of all…..(drumroll)

My dear room mate, A.

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I miss her very much! I am sure she is having a nice time back home 🙂

It is really different being friends with someone from a different continent and living together with one. Imagine the discomfort at first, when it is like you are living with a stranger; what with safety and trust which seem to come easily between us. I dont regret requesting for a room mate and I thank God profusely with such a perfect selection! A test about one’s ability to conform and adjust to living with another, i think it turned into a blessing.

Imagine how lonely I would be without her??? I was for the 3 days after her departure and before my departure back home, lonely and bored. She was always there to listen even though she needs to study or do something, she will always lend her always ready ear. Impossible to forget her protectiveness over me when i experienced something really bad there. Sharing of tales from back home, of travel, of culture, of life experiences…

p.s her favourite colour is green too!!!_________________________________________________

Bosnia is hard to forget! And the people i met there, even harder to forget.

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A perfect blend of culture, we left behind our nationalities and stuck together like family.

Not forgetting the cute Bosnian lady who brought me to them… even though she was confused 🙂

A couple of very sweet girls working in a hostel in Sarajevo and the handsome owner…huehue…I should have taken a photo with them!!!

There were also the so many people i met in the hostel; 3 Serbian girls, a Slovakian girl, an Austrain girl, American, a S.Korean lady….

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All the way from Tanzania, a friend I found so warm even from the beginning. Even the silence between us was wonderful, comfortable when we first met.

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Taken during Eid.

Also include a Somalian family, warm and welcoming. The grandma, so sweet even though she couldnt speak English. Imagine her entertaining us, with just smiles and very very simple English. I visited her twice besides the times we met in the mosque.

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Travel friends…

 Canadian and Hong Kong guys, the story of how we met still humours me. Which has to do with a Bosnian lady. Ohh the tale of the my train trip from Budapest to Sarajevo is one weird and fun one…

When i think about my friend in Milan, I from Burkina Faso, it makes me such a happy kid. My friend kind of picked me out from a crowd (i wasnt that hard to pick as i stood out like a sore thumb) and make sure I stuck to I , and even asked me to stay there,for the whole time i was there.

I must not forget my hospitable hosts and hostess in Tampere and Cologne ( house of B)…it made my experiences even more meaningful…

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I had a ‘friend’ almost everywhere i went. Amazing ain’t it? Alhamdulilahi rabbil ‘alamin.

God has looked after me so well and protected me from harm in so many ways.

More of Mostar…

16 Jan

Love love love Bosnia! The trip there was wonderful, amazing, breath-taking…comforting having met many wonderful people.

My camera battery was out so i captured only a few photos while i was with amazing group of people. I relied on the rest to pass the photos when they uploaded them. One of them who captured a couple of group photos, his camera unfortunately got stolen while he was in Berlin. 😦

The Japanese guy, among the group, just blogged about Bosnia trip so i stole some photos. I got one while we were in the restaurant Kulluk…more beautiful photos of Bosnia which couldnt be captured by my low resolution camera but …just have a look.

)

Such beauty does exist not only on postcards 🙂

 He took train to Mostar from Sarajevo, the beauty is different when compared to the one i witnessed. Furthermore, i arrived a day earlier then him. It was snowing heavily when i left Sarajevo.

A few more photos of the journey from Sarajevo to Mostar.

A few more photos of the journey from Sarajevo to Mostar.

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The restaurant where i met them, friends i went to Blagaj with.

The restaurant where i met them, friends i went to Blagaj with.

Me, Sonja, Romeo, Natalia, Jason and Seko.

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When i went to meet them to head to Blagaj

When i went to meet them to head to Blagaj

In the bus heading towards Blagaj, Seko get along with the Bosnians well.

In the bus heading towards Blagaj, Seko get along with the Bosnians well.

These students were shouting peace! peace! peace! …so cute…

Eurotrotter journal: Split

18 Dec
the walls are really old

the walls are really old

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old monument

old monument

scary, they look like they could 'roboh' anytime...

scary, they look like they could 'roboh' anytime...

It is undergrund, some people selling some stuff.

It is underground, some people selling some stuff.

Very good spot for summer vacation, in winter though it just looks nice.

Very good spot for summer vacation, in winter though it just looks nice.

i think it looks nice...

i think it looks nice...

A little imagination can make you see what i saw…

Leads to the Adriatic sea. Was very peaceful to walk on this stretch...if only it wasnt raining lightly.

Leads to the Adriatic sea. Was very peaceful to walk on this stretch...if only it wasnt raining lightly.

Off i went to my next destination! On Germinwings.

Off i went to my next destination! On Germinwings.

People were nice.

I arrived late at night by bus from Mostar. It was empty, the streets were. I wandered with a little map looking for my hostel which i found after 30 minutes. Glad it was a clean one and had a good rest before the morning when i got to run some errands.

Made it quick, got onto a mini van to the airport. That explains the few pictures, i got only the morning to see little of it.