Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea

I love carnival season, it´s so much fun! This year me and boyfriend checked out Ivrea carnival of oranges. It is an old tradition where people throw each other with oranges. Peculiar as it sounds it is actually super fun. I don´t generally like playing with food, I don´t like wasting, so at first it sounded a bit strange to watch how people throw away tons of oranges, but the reality is that these oranges will never find a way to grocery store or food table, they would be thrown away anyway because of European regulations on exports, so why not make something fun out of them.

The locals are divided into nine combat teams who throw oranges at each other. They take it very serious and it is really like a real battle. It is not rare to see people with some bruises or eye injury (imagine orange juice in eye), but then again there isn´t really a reason to feel endangered, visitors can keep the distance while still feel like a part of the carnival. We of course wanted to throw some oranges as well and we managed but we also got hit with oranges.

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Every year a Mugnaia is elected to represent a miller´s daughter that once refused to sleep with the duke, who had the “right” to spend a night with every newly wed woman. Brave girl cut his head off.

Rumors say that it is not cheap to become a Mugnaia and the honour to be one costs considerable amount of money. True or not, la mugnaia is an important part of the carnival. If you are lucky enough you can catch some candy or flowers that are thrown to the crowds.

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It is not only violent food throwing, there is also a parade with pretty horses and traditional clothes.

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We came out alive and very happy. It is definitely an event to take part in. Next year I would like to participate to another carnival. Maybe Venice?

Some tricks to survive Ivrea carnival of oranges:

1. It costs 8 euros and standing in a long queue to participate in carnival, so it is better to come early. You can try getting in through some side streets, but you did not hear that from me 😉

2. Wear a red hat. Unless you like to get hit. Red hat is a sign that you are just a visitor and people should not be violent with you.

3. It is not a place to wear your pretty clothes. Old and comfortable clothes and boots is a must. Believe me, it will get messy.

4. If you want to play, play it fair. Step inside of the battle field and take off your hat.

5. You should not throw oranges in distance, they hurt. Step closer when the carriages come, but then again not too close.

6. Choose a train instead of taking a car, that way you avoid problems with parking.

Fun free things to do in New York

I am not gonna make it a secret that traveling can leave a hole in a wallet, so before heading to New York, I did my research how to do it budget friendly. I must admit that most “10 free things to do in New York” Youtube videos and travel guide lists did not have much effect on me at first. But when I actually was in the Big Apple, I found myself following the very same lists that felt boring at first. So if you would rather save some money, for shopping or a Broadway show or whatever else, here are some of my suggestions. Inspired from the very same lame youtube videos and lonely planet.

1. Needles to point that out, but good old Central Park should be on the top of the list. If you are anything like me, then you would be happy to find a green spot even when you are on a city vacation.

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2. Continuing with green, the High Line is an enjoyable walk. I find it a brilliant idea to recycle an old railway to an urban park. And the park looks great even when there is not much green to find. We found some snow instead.

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3. New York Public Library: Although there are not exactly piles of books everywhere to be seen, the library itself is like a small art museum. Definitely a pleasant get-away.

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4. Grand Central Terminal: Imagine yourself being a main character in a movie, rushing to the train that takes you to your biggest adventure or you make a dramatic new beginning in your life. The station gives many options for day-dreaming.

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5. Not exactly free, but for donations (and yes, it is actually acceptable to pay a lot less than recommended, don’t feel guilty if you pay a different amount), the Metropolitan Museum of Art is like a whole small world. It has something for everyone, so if you don’t like classical art so much (I’m also not the biggest fan), you can move straight to modern art or why not African art. To see everything that you would like you could easily spend the whole day there.

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6. Good old Staten Island ferry. Because you can’t leave without seeing Lady Liberty, right? I must say that this lady isn’t such a big girl after all, but having a ride on a ferry is always fun.

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7. The easiest thing to do: walk around. You can explore a lot by just walking. New York is a great place for long walks and it saves you some money on transportation, also some nerves as metros can be tough sometimes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ski Trip to Bardonecchia

I have a secret love for snowboarding. Well, not so secret anymore, but definitely a strong love. My boyfriend took me snowboarding on one of our first dates and ever since I have been in love with him and with this sport. He has been a very patient teacher (although I am a rather complicated person to teach) and this year was my first ever ski trip. Oh, how I waited it! We decided to go to Bardonecchia, which is close to Torino, the 2006 Olympic city. Although I was very excited, the thought of snowboarding on real mountains was a bit scary. But it all went so much better than expected.

On our first day on the mountain we had a perfect sunny weather. It was sunny enough to make my face tomato red for the next two days, but it felt just perfect. The snow was also good and a bonus was that there wasn´t so many people as my boyfriend had always warned me about. I practiced and learned and soon enough felt rather good about myself. There are many different slopes in Bardonecchia, some are very steep, some better for beginners. I was happy that I could also try the Olympic one, although it did scare me a bit.

On our second day we got a different kind of perfect weather. It has been snowing the entire previous night and kept snowing a bit during the day. I think I will always remember that feeling of perfect fresh snow under my board. There was so much fresh snow that we managed to get stuck in it, of course that happened when we went off piste (nothing dangerous, it was still in the ski resort). When going off piste the layer of snow is very thick and when you fall it is very easy to get stuck. For a moment I thought I will stay there in the snow for real, but we managed to push our limits and I can say now that it was another awesome experience. We also spent some time in snowpark, where I tried my first tiny jumps and rails. I felt really proud.

The whole experience was definitely one of the greatest I´ve ever had. If I had to change anything in Bardonecchia, then it would be opening hours. It felt totally unfair that we had to leave around 4:30 in the afternoon, leaving us with only 6 hours of intense training when I was ready for 6 more. Needless to say that my legs didn´t agree with me the next day.

Here are some tips that I find useful for first-time visitors in Bardonecchia:

1. If you are a student then you get 50% of discount, but you should fill a form before and not forget to take your student card with you.

2. If you think that it will be too much hassle or just too expensive to take the equipment with, consider renting it. I took everything else with me except the board. If you choose to rent, do your homework, it might be cheaper to register for it before.

3. Start your day early, there are less people in the morning and the day passes so quickly.

4. Wear your protections. Really, I don´t know what I would do without the big-butt pants, let alone the knee protections and of course most important, the helmet.

5. Have fun!

I really miss Bardonecchia already, can´t believe that soon is the time to put the snowboard aside for so many months.

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A walk through Central Park

To have a nice long walk in Central Park is definitely a “must” when visiting New York. For once the weather was on our side and we could take the best of this magnificent park. Enjoying the views from many movies seen, following the squirles, cheering secretly to all the sporty people running and enjoying a little quiet time away from the city noise makes the day perfect.

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Alice in Wonderland is one of my big favorites and her statue is just adorable. It felt like seeing old friends. We are all mad here 😉

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Blizzard in New York and the Brooklyn Bridge

I was lucky enough to be in New York city during the big blizzard. At least it was expected to be serious, reality was much different. As Nordic girls all the fuzz around a snowstorm seemed rather funny for us. Indeed, for us it was just a normal winter weather, no need for the drama. Of course, I have to admit that just after I got home from New York, I got the most annoying cold, so I might have overestimated my Nordic strength to handle bad weather, but I am very much alive and healthy by now.

Anyway, with the weather being as it was, we managed to walk around all day long Seeing the Brooklyn Bridge without no soul around was quite an experience. I always imagined it full of tourists, but not with that weather. I must say that I enjoyed the quiet walk a lot even though it was a bit chilly.

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Last day in Tokyo

Days go fast when you`re having good time. We spent our last day in Japan visiting Tjukiji fish market, doing last minute shopping and enjoying tasty food. It was the only time we had sushi in Japan, I was ready to eat it three times a day, but turns out there´s so many other good dishes to try out. Not that sushi wasn´t tasty, it was perfect. Food is definitely something I´m gonna miss about Japan.

I loved the fish market. It was so different from Tokyo we were used to see, almost like a secret world. It felt very real, best word I can find to describe it. Reading from a travel guide, it didn´t feel like anything so special, but in real life it was totally worth to check out. We missed the tuna auction as it starts way too early, but had good time wondering around anyway.

We ended the day and our journey in Japan walking in Rikugien garden. It felt like a fairy tale with all the lights and music. A perfect ending. The short time we spent in Japan taught me a lot. First of all that misfortune doesn´t define the trip. There are millions of things that can get wrong and the luck is not always in our hands, but it does not make the travel bad. There are always so many things to enjoy and admire, no point to stress about small things. It´s ok to ask for help even if you´d think that locals can´t speak English anyways, there are always ways to make yourself clear. I will keep this trip close to my heart, Japan is a beautiful country with amazing nature, helpful people, delicious food and so much more.

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Visiting the deers in Nara

Nara, a lovely town near Kyoto, was definitely the place I waited to visit the most. The reason was simple: I wanted to see the deers. I read early about the park where the deers walk freely, side by side with pedestrians. When we arrived, it was as excited as I imagined. The park itself is amazing and there are many things to see. We visited Tōdai-ji temple, which is impressive. But the stars are still the deers. They own the park, it is their home and they sure act like bosses. They are used to being fed and if you don´t feed them, they will ask for it. Couple of them bit me gently from my butt when I wasn´t as fast with the cookies as they wanted to. We also almost lost the map to a deer, but I chased him and got it back, because I was worried that paper might not be the best thing for he´s digestive system. It was great to see how well the park works, I didn´t see any people mistreating the animals or giving wrong kind of food to them. Although the deers are amazing animals and such majestic creatures, it is important to still remember that they are wild animals and are not there for the entertainment.

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