If there's one book that really has changed my life, I pick this. Without a second thought.
For people that closest to me, they knew what really happened to me recently.
My mom gave me this book to occupy my lonely time. From the first page I slipped through, I cried. It is not because of the test that God gave me, but the words that the writer arranged for his reader are just pain in the ass. It gives you a sudden feeling that wakes you up from your deepest dream. Every word is described really well that I could not find even one flaw to argue his idea. The best part is when every ideology that he presented was supported by both Quran and Hadith.
We always whine "why me, why me" every time God gives us test. Especially when time is hard and life knocks us down. But we never realise that those tests are such a platform for His servants to become closer to Him. We also never realise that it is better when Lord gives us hard time rather than good time. Why?
As much as we look up for Lord during our hard times, are we still do the same during our good time? At least, myself, always forgot Lord when He gave me fortunes. It is such a bad bad bad thing to do *wipe tears* The biggest test for us is when He gives us tonnes of fortunes, and yet we drive ourselves away from Him.
After awhile reading this book, I gained my strength and slowly pick up my pieces. It is such a miracle that the writer has opened up my world to become closer to Allah (with the help of Allah ofcourse). And I wish to share this miracle with my readers too.
"Oleh itu, maka (tetapkanlah kepercayaanmu) bahawa sesungguhnya tiap-tiap kesukaran disertai kemudahan. Sesungguhnya tiap-tiap kesukaran disertai kemudahan. Kemudian apabila engkau telah selesai (daripada sesuatu amal soleh); maka bersungguh-sungguhlah engkau berusaha (mengerjakan amal soleh yang lain), dan kepada Tuhanmu sahaja hendaklah engkau memohon (apa yang engkau gemar dan ingini). Al-Insyirah 94: 5-8
From Bristol, we took flight using Easyjet, depart from Bristol Airport to Galileo Galilei International Airport, Pisa. It is advisable to book at least 3 months advance to get the most favorable ticket fare. It took 2 hours to arrive at Pisa and to get the best view up on the air, it is a must to take a window nearby window. Because you will be crossing Switzerland and eventually you will see mountains covered with snow. I bet you will not blinked your eyes, even for a second.
Once arrived at the Galileo Galilei International Airport, we left our luggage at the airport because we will not be staying at Pisa. There is a left luggage service at the airport and it will cost you Euro 7 per luggage for a day. From the airport, you have to take the bus named, LAM ROSSA, which will then take you to the Pisa Leaning Tower. You can get the bus ticket at the machine at the bus stop or through the counter in the airport.
The LAM ROSSA bus can be found at the bus station outside of the airport
After few stations, the bus will stop right in front of the Leaning Tower site, which called Piazza del Duomo. If you were unsure whether you already arrived at Leaning Tower or not, just ask the local people for help. Because that what we did. You cannot see the Leaning Tower because it was covered by a huge building in front of it, so that is why it is advisable to ask the local people or the bus conductor whether you are there yet or not.
Pisa is only famous for its Leaning Tower, but just when you arrived there, you will realise that not only Leaning Tower located in that site, but also a cathedral and other monuments. The Leaning Tower is the bell tower for the cathedral. You can see a lot of tourists take a moment to enjoy the summer breeze by lying on the grass.
The overall view
The souvenir stalls are just along the road. But do not be too greedy to buy when you first see the shops. Make sure to browse for the best price because you can get a bunch of keychains at only one pound each. Only buy those souvenirs at stalls that sell keychains at that price. Remember.
The cathedral. Beware not to step onto the grass as the police will blow their whistle to you.
The very famous Leaning Tower
For Muslim travelers like us, you do not have to be worried about halal food because outside of the Piazza del Duomo, there is one small restaurant selling halal foods. It is located at the corner of the shoplots.
And another tip for Muslim travelers, you can stop by at the Islamic Culturale Center, Pisa. From Piazza del Duomo, take the LAM ROSSA bus towards the airport. Stop at Gambacorti 1 bus station. From here, you have to walk few steps to reach to the center.
After finished off our prayer, we head over to the airport back and proceed to our next stop, which is Florence.
To arrive at Florence, we have to take the express bus named Terravision which will directly bring you to Santa Maria station, the main train station of Florence. The journey will take approximately 2 hours from Galileo Galilei International Airport. The fare is cheap as well.
Once we arrived at Florence, we checked in to the hotel which is just one station away from the main station. What I love about this city is all top tourist attractions can be reached by just walking. The receptionist was very helpful to show us where should we go within the limited time we had since we arrived quite late at Florence.
Florence has a lot of huge cathedral around and the local people love to just mingle around the cathedral to have a relax mind on a lovely evening. The only thing we watch for at their cathedral is the architecture and design of it. Some of it was built few hundreds years back and still stand still without having any crack on its wall. Their interior design is very detail as well.
The Basillica of Santa Maria Novella
And oh! Don't forget to watch out for horse dunk along the way
Battistero di San Giovanni is just few steps away from the above basillica. It shaped octagon, if you can see. Few myths about the cathedral that you can find out in the web.
The famous building among postcard photography view, Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, one of the oldest cathedral in Florence. Those sites mentioned are part of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The most recommended building which is also known as the town hall of Florence, the Palazzo Vecchio. Currently used for historic museum, art collection exhibitions and important events.
The Fountain of Neptune. This is the copy statue and the original is stored in the National Museum.
Perseus with the Head of Medusa
The copy statue of David, a masterpiece craved by Michaelangelo.
Sunset view in Florence / Firenze
The old bridge where local people love to hang out and drinking with friends.
We don't know what is this river called but what amazed us is the fake waterfall that they made and it is huge, I tell you!
After tired walking down the city, we head over to our hotel. The biggest hotel we've ever stayed. I could laugh remembering when my parents were pretty scared when they first step into the room and saw a huge room, somehow like apartment, with a bathtub and a complete set of kitchen in it. They were totally scared if the hotel charged thousands euro into their credit card. Surprisingly, this hotel is ridiculously cheap looking at the room that we got. So, when you fly to Florence, make sure to stay at Residence Porta al Prato. Satisfaction is guaranteed!
The next day we head over to Venice, other part of Italy. From our hotel, we need to take tram, and after one station, we arrived at Santa Maria Station, the main train station.
This is how it looks like in Santa Maria station. We arrived an hour early and there is no place to seat. They must allocate more seat for tourists, and not for the homeless people sleeping at the chair.
We used RailEurope train to arrive at Venice, and this train will bring you directly from Santa Maria station, Florence to Santa Lucia station, Venice.
Venice is famous as an island of love where tourists find their relaxing time here while enjoying the sound of music on gondola ride. Located in an island, Venice main transportation is water bus which operated by AVTO company. You can either buy one day pass, half day pass or just one hour pass to travel around Venice. Tickets can be easily (sometimes hard to) find at the Santa Lucia main station or nearby small shops selling cigarette, you just have to ask the local people where to buy the ticket if you are not from the main station.
They also provide water taxi but it is much expansive than the water bus ticket fare, although it might save your time traveling from one point to another.
The water is so clear, that you don't have to put so much effort in editing.
The Rialto Bridge, famous among tourist and local people.
The Venetian mask is everywhere, and if you interested in one of them for souvenir, then make sure to browse for the shop that offer the best price.
It was a good weather during our stay in Venice and gondola ride is a must for tourists especially couple who loves to spend their time enjoying the view of Venice. But we don't, simply because the price is ridiculously expensive.
From the Rialto Bridge, you can just walk to the Piazza San Marco, a popular landmark in Venice. The St Mark church is located in this public square. As much as tourists love this place, pigeons do love it too.
Venice has so much islands to discover, but sadly we only allocate one day for Venice, thus we can't cover the whole part of Venice.
After the whole day trip to Venice, we return to the hotel, which is 5 stations far from the Santa Lucia main station.We choose Ai Carmini Residence as it is cheap and easy to find, only 5 minutes walk from the San Basilio water bus station. The room is big, indeed. But the only problem was the owner. I will tell about it in another post.
The whole view for our room, and you can get this room for Euro 100 per night.
The next day we left Italy for Switzerland (aaaaaaa so excited). For the next remaining trip, we use Eurail pass as it was easy to use. But expect to fork out extra money for seat booking and reservation on certain countries.
From Santa Lucia station, Venice, we have to stop at Milano Centrale station, Milan. Milan has the most beautiful train station that we've ever been. It is huge and it has a lot of shoplots where you can shop while waiting for your train to depart. After waited for an hour in Milano Centrale station, we finally departed and proceed to Zurich main station.
For this journey, we had to fork out Euro 66 for reservation fee. It is required for the Eurail pass. When there is optional for you to make reservation, it means that you can ignore to reserve your seat, but you have to give up your seat if someone came and claim the seat that you sit. That is how it works.
Italy has so much to discover including Rome, Venice, Florence and Vatican City. But sadly we did not have sufficient time to travel whole Italy in only two days. It is good enough to see few most popular tourist attractions in Italy, such as Venice and Pisa. My parents seem so happy that they never imagine in their wildest dream they could actually arrived at Venice, the city of love.