As you may or may not know, this year is a special year for Milan. They are hosting the World Expo and this is actually one of the reasons why I came to Milan in the spring semester and not in the fall semester. So you can go to the Expo for a full day, or you can go in the evening from 7 pm to 11 pm. Evening tickets are a lot cheaper and a really easy way to see the Expo and to say that you have been there. However if you really want to see inside all the pavilions, an evening ticket is not really an option since most pavilions close at 9 (although the food parts stay open until much later). This brings us to the theme of the Expo and it is FOOD. So all pavilions have little restaurants or cafes where you can eat/drink the food that is from that specific country. In case you don’t like eating ‘strange’ food, there is also a McDonalds…
Visiting the Expo
Anyway, I have been to the Expo a couple of times in the evening and it is great. But last week I finally went a whole day and it was amazing. There is so much to see and do that one day is definitely not enough, but we saw most pavilions and at least the ones we heard a lot about. One thing to keep in mind is that some of the pavilions have waiting lines, especially the Japanese pavilion (average waiting time 1 hour) and the pavilion of the United Arab Emirates (average waiting time 1 hour). This is because they only allow a small amount of people to go in at a time, since there are special shows/films attached to walking through the pavilion. If you want to see these, you need to go there first (we went to the UAE pavilion first thing in the morning and did not have to wait, but we went to the Japanese one in the afternoon and waited 1 hour). I will also be writing more specific blogposts about some of the pavilions, so keep an eye out for those!
After all this talk, here are some pictures I took when I went to the Expo. I also went to the Cirque du Soleil show, which was made especially for the Expo and also centers around food. It is so beautiful and if you have the time to go there, definitely worth the watch.
To get to all the pavilions there is a really long street in the middle of the Expo grounds. Because it can get really hot and sunny in Milan in the summer, the promenade is covered by big screens, as you can see in the picture. Pictures don’t really convey scale, but trust me when I say it is massive. The pavilions have flags along the sides so you can easily see which country is coming up.
Here are some pictures of some of the pavilions we saw (from the outside). Just to give you an impression of how big they are and how crazy the countries get in showing off.
Now I am very biased of course, but I really like the Dutch pavilion. They created a sort of food festival, with dutch food trucks, on the terrain and it is a nice break from all the pretentious pavilions you sometimes see. There is also some information on agriculture in the Netherlands, but lets face it, you’d rather eat some ‘bitterballen’ and ‘poffertjes’. However Brazil has a really cool netting structure inside their pavilion, so if you want to feel like a child again, go there.
Tree of life
Next to the Italian pavilion there is the ‘Tree of Life’. A giant tree-like wooden structure in the middle of fountains. Every hour during the day there is a 3-minute show and in the evening starting when it is dark, every half hour there is a 12-minute show with lights and fireworks. It is really cool, so definitely worth the wait to go see it at the end of the day.
I hope you have time to visit the Expo this year and if you can’t, let me know which pavilions you would like to see some pictures of!