If you are still hesitating whether you should visit the Expo Milano 2015, don’t! You are still on time to plan your visit until October 31. This year’s powerful Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life theme, allows you to learn about food diversity and sustainability while it takes you on an unforgettable world culinary journey which will develop your senses and taste buds. Literally, tasting the world in just one place, what could be better?
There are many lists and advices out there on how to better organize your visit and which pavilions you should visit but at the end of the day it will be up to you. You should think about the amount of time you have and how to make the most of it. Above anything else you have to decide what your preferences or priorities are and go from there. Everyone is different and what may be the “best pavilion ever” may not be the best for you.
Here are my best 5 tips to help you get started:
- Choose your means of transport wisely. Depending on where you are staying in Milan or in the outskirts, there is a wide choice of transports available. From train, to subways, buses, taxis, you name it. You can find all the information in this Transport Guide. If you rented a car like we did, be aware that you need to book a place in advance for one of the 4 available parkings at least the day before. This can be done online.
- Arrive early, preferably at 10.00 in the morning when the gates open. The earlier you arrive, the better you avoid queues and cut the waiting period to enter the most popular pavilions.
- If you have small children like me, take advantage of the ID bracelet offered before the security gates (look for the staff members with yellow vests) to all children under 13. This bracelet will have their first and last names and your contact number. I strongly advise it, with thousands of people around, you never know when they can get distracted or lost. Another great service, particularly if you have small children and did not travel with their strollers, is the possibility to borrow one at the Chicco sponsored welcoming area. You can reserve one through the Chicco app. Your credit card will be charged with a refundable amount and that way you can relax when they feel tired or sleepy.
- Plan your visit. Decide if you want to go for the most popular pavilions regardless of the often long waiting period. Or if instead you want to make your choice based on the countries you always wanted to visit but never could or/and the ones you really want to taste and explore their culinary heritage. You may also want to check the program of activities in advance and choose according to that. Everyday there are food demonstrations, music, concerts and other activities you may want to be part of.
- Don’t plan anything! Go with the flow, decide on the spot what looks appealing and go with your instincts. Take risks, learn, eat, after all tasting the world can be fun!
The heat wave hit us hard when we arrived at the Expo 2015 grounds in Milan. It has been a particular warm year in the whole of Europe and in Milan the temperatures were soaring in July.
We had bought our tickets online so fortunately we didn’t have to queue but there were a lot of people in the early hours of the opening. Once inside, smiles welcomed us and we were each offered a fan which we gratefully accepted, wondering if there would be shade as well to shield us from the high temperatures. Fortunately, the main alley is protected from the sun, allowing to rest in the shade between pavilions.
I wondered how it would compare to the last Expo I had been to in 1998 in my country, Portugal. The theme then had been appropriately “The Oceans, a heritage for the future”, partly to commemorate our 500 years of Portuguese Discoveries. But this Expo had lingered in my memory for other reasons as well. This was the year when Al Qaeda executed their first major attacks in the US embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania and changed the course of history. I was in Kenya when it happened and although I was lucky enough to survive without being hurt, there had been a moment when I thought I was going to die. So after the difficult weeks that followed trying to come to terms with the senseless deaths, some of people I had known, visiting the Expo had been like a celebration of life and diversity.
This is the main goal of these World Fairs, a place where countries peacefully, showcase their culture and traditions and offer you a glimpse into their world. To have a sample of the world in one place is a privilege. A journey of discovery of places you may or not visit but that you can experience and learn about through their eyes.
The Expo Milano’s theme this year is especially interesting for me. “Feeding the planet, Energy for life” follows a trend. More and more there is concern for our planet’s depleted resources and our ability to feed 7.3 + billion people! There is a worldwide movement of people going back to the basics, buying land and producing their own food. Eating healthy, following the organic path, avoiding pesticides and other artificially enhanced food is the goal. Often these are people that lived in big cities and had busy working lives. Some had family connections to the land, some never did.
I’ve encountered some of these people on my big road trip this summer and I’ll introduce you to them soon.
To get energy for the long day ahead it was only natural to start tasting the world right from the start. We found ourselves in front of the Bahrain pavilion, a country we know well and visited often when we lived in Saudi Arabia. “Archaeologies of Green” was their theme regarding the relationship of Agriculture with their cultural heritage. Dates are a normal staple in this part of the world so when I saw this Date Coffee cake, I could not resist! This really gave me the needed energy to start exploring.
We had a rough plan of the pavilions we wanted to see but plans are made to be broken, particularly so when you have a child. We ended up by not visiting some due to the long queues, particularly when you had to stand hours exposed to the heat and sun. My daughter is five and we did not want to put her through that. Having said that, I am very happy with our choices.
To better inspire you and as I have a lot to show you, I decided to divide this post in 3 additional parts where I will recommend our favorite pavilions. Stay tuned!
If you want to find out about which pavilions I recommend then check: