Having left the Finlyandsky Railway Station (Finlandia Station) in St. Petersburg at 6:40 a.m., I arrive in Helsinki Finland by 10:07.

Helsinki Station

At times, reaching a top speed of 220-kms per hour, this 300-km ride took me 3.5 hours on the Allegro. 

Finlyandsky Railway Station

The old section of the Finlyandsky Railway Station

What’s interesting about the Finlyandsky Railway Station is that it was famously known for the arrival of Vladimir Lenin by train from Germany on 3 April 1917 to start the October Revolution. The event was commemorated by the statue of Lenin placed in the square in front of the station.

Lenin is shown on the top of  armored car. He arrived on the  steam locomotive  #293, which is now on display as a permanent exhibit at one of the platforms in the station. 

It’s another beautiful, clear blue-sky day in Helsinki. I check into the Helsinki Senate Hotel which is so close to the main square. I am told that I have access to free use of the sauna and laundry rooms. This is great! I can really do with some indulgence. And, I am given an upgrade on the room as well! 

Read More

Finally, I’ve made it to Russia…a longtime item on my Bucket List and I’m super stoked to be in St. Petersburg!

My first stop is to check in to the Melange Hotel, a not-so-easy-to-spot accommodation, but nonetheless, very comfortable, inexpensive and ideally located on St. Petersburg’s main street, Nevsky Prospekt.  

The City of the Tsars, the Venice of the North, the Artistic Powerhouse, are just some of the names used to describe St. Petersburg. Founded by Peter the Great, who used the creative and artistic skills of European architects, this Romanov stronghold became Russia’s first great modern city. And I can see why! 

Read More

It’s 7 a.m. and too early to check in to my hotel. So, the next best thing is to walk down the street to the most famous Cathedral Square in Vilnius Lithuania.

At the very centre is the stately and stunning Vilnius Cathedral in all its white neoclassical beauty.  

Basilica of St. Stanislaus and Bell Tower

Formally known as the Basilica of St. Stanislaus this is definitely one of the most iconic sights in Vilnius. The fact that it lies at the head of the main street, Gedimino Pr., adds to its status. The cathedral is built in Palladian-style architecture on a site that has been a sacred place since pre-Christian times, when it may have been used to worship the Baltic pagan god, Perkūnas. The original cathedral was established in 1251 and was rebuilt and restored several times throughout the centuries. 

The early morning service was certainly time well spent!  Read More

The train ride on PolRail from Poznan to Warsaw took approximately four hours. The ride itself was comfortable with lots of snacking on board! I am staying at the IBIS Warszawa, a budget hotel chain located near the gateway to Warsaw’s Old Town.  

It’s a cold and wet day in Warsaw with the outside temperature at 2C. The city is devoid of crowds, partly because of the Easter holidays.  

Warsaw has seen its share of destruction over the years. The most destructive events include the Deluge, the Great Northern War (1702, 1704, 1705), War of the Polish Succession, the Warsaw Uprising (1794) the Battle of Praga and the Massacre of Praga Inhabitants, the November Uprising, January Uprising, World Wars , the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and Warsaw Uprising (after which the German occupiers razed the city). During this time, Warsaw was passed back and forth like a sack of potatoes all the while sustaining heavy economic and physical damage and labeled as the “Most Destroyed City in the World“. Post wars, Warsaw was finally left to pick up the pieces and move forward. 

Today, the city or Stare Miasto has being turned into a fascinating, colourful, picturesque place, earning itself the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.   Read More

Poznań in Poland is a gorgeous historical city. It is colourful, clean, and totally camera friendly. The Main Square in the Old Town is, in itself, packed with museums, monuments, and historical landmarks that tell a tale of Poland’s past, and definitely worth visiting.

Blooms Inn and Apartments

I have arrived in Poznań from Berlin. I am staying at Blooms Inn and Apartments, a charming, historical “Flower Villa” townhouse which was built in 1903 and renovated while keeping its unique character of the past.  

I’m in Poznań because it was Poland’s first capital and (as some may call it) the birthplace of the Polish nation. As such, there is a lot of history attached to this little city because like most of Europe, Poznań too felt the brunt of WWII and suffered immense damage.  

Read More