The World's Fair - Expo Milano 2015


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May 6th 2015
Published: May 7th 2015
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This morning at breakfast we were talking with Fabio about the best way to get to the Expo. It's a good thing that we did has we learnt from him that, in addition to the Metro trains and the Regional trains, there are Suburban trains. Bernie thought that we would have to take two Metro trains to the Expo, but Fabio told us that if we went to Garibaldi station we could take an 'S' train that would take us directly to the Expo site in just four stops. Local knowledge is a wonderful thing!

We didn't come to Milan for the Expo but, since it is on (and we are paying a premium price for our accommodation because of it!), we thought that we might as well check it out. The Expo opened at the end of last week on the 1st of May and will run until 31 October 2015. The theme for the Expo is 'Feeding the Planet - Energy for Life' and is supposed to showcase what countries are doing to address the issue of feeding everyone on the planet into the future.

With Fabio's tip about the train we made it easily to Rho Fiera Station where we disembarked with just about every other person on the train. A least it made it easy to find our way from the station to the entrance gates - we just drifted along with the rest of the crowd. At the entrance we were subjected to an airport-styled security check, which was not unexpected because our tickets were actually endorsed with 'Important information' stating that Expo will employ airport level entrance security and restrictions.

The Expo runs daily from 10.00am to 11.00pm and we arrived pretty much right on opening time, but certainly not planning to be there until closing time! It took about 15 minutes to get through the security checks at the gate and once we were in we approached a volunteer to see if we could get a map to the site. No problem except that she had already run out of English maps ... by 10.15am! ... so we had to make do with an Italian map.

At breakfast yesterday morning a fellow guest at the B&B told us that she was impressed with Korea's pavilion. As it was located near the west gate that we had entered from we made a point of stopping in. The display was a marvel of robotics and video imagery featuring food been sliced and diced across a couple of video screens being whizzed about on robotic arms. Aside from that the display extolled the virtues of kimchi, the Republic of Korea's signature side dish of pickled vegetable. We couldn't quite ascertain how this fitted in with the 'Feed the Planet' theme.

We established early on that Australia is not represented at the Expo so decided that we would just work our way from west to east on the north side of the main aisle then return to the station along the south side. I'm not going to record my impression of each and every pavilion we visited. Suffice to say that most of the ones that we visited early on seemed to have missed the brief that the theme was about food production keeping up with population growth into the future. A very large number of countries seemed to have put together pavilions that would have been more suited to a travel show while others featured cultural displays. For example the folk singers from Belarus and the Thai kick boxing demonstration were interesting, but weren't really about food.

Both of us felt that the Chinese exhibit was an interesting display of propaganda. Maybe this was because we are Australian and the brouhaha concerning raspberries fertilised with untreated human excrement is still fresh in our minds! We were very cynical about their proclamations about applying science and technology to produce safe food products. All I can say is thank goodness I'm vaccinated for Hep A and B.

After some lunch in the 'Eataly' section, where we dined on dishes from the Puglia region of Italy, we finally found a pavilion that I thought nailed the brief. Well done Holland for a pavilion that had some really groovy food trucks selling typical Dutch food (yum, couldn't resist the poffertjes) AND some really interesting information about scientific and agricultural advances that Holland is making to find alternative food sources and increase the yield of traditional livestock and crops AND the work that it is doing in developing nations to assist with food production. Tick, tick, tick!!

The French also had an interesting and on-point exhibition that was very stylishly put together ... of course ... and featured the most amazing Peugeot food trucks. The UK also had an interactive pavilion linked to a beehive in the UK - the more active the hive was, the more lights were lighting up in the 'hive' in their pavilion. Given the importance of bees to world agriculture this was another display that hit the mark.

We reached the USA's pavilion which had timed tickets for entry to their main auditorium. At 3.15pm the next available session was not until 5.00pm so we made do with a look at their vertical garden technology and an interesting variable solar shield installation. Given that a recurrent them about food, especially in western countries, is the amount of food that is wasted it occurred to me to wonder what is happening to all of the food being grown for these displays? How many hydroponic lettuces are being grown to keep the vertical garden looking fresh and lush for six months and what is happening to all the droopy lettuces that are being rotated out of the display? I suspect that they are not being eaten. Or am I too cynical?

Huh, the Japanese pavilion had a 50 minute queue so that was another country that we missed and we'd only just finished the north side of the main aisle! We turned around and started up the south side of the exhibits but, with both of us feeling a bit over the whole thing, we didn't venture into as many pavilions on our way back towards the station. We shook our heads at McDonald's involvement in the Expo and watched some traditional Vietnamese dancing before viewing another interesting and relevant display by Belgium ... which has to get a tick because we each got a free Belgium chocolate!

So, we have been to a World's Fair. I don't know if we'll be in a rush to go to another one although Bernie says that with a different theme it might be a better proposition?! We caught the train back to Garibaldi Station and then walked back to the B&B. Catherine came around to our room to invite us to drinks on the terrace again so we enjoyed a glass (OK two glasses) of wine with our host, Fabian, and a couple of other guests before we ventured out to dinner.

We had no trouble getting a table for dinner tonight as there was a big soccer match on. This meant that there were no locals out to dinner, they were all at home watching the game! Aside from us there were two American couples in the restaurant. What a difference from Monday night when this restaurant was packed to the gills.

That brings our time in Italy to an end as we head to France tomorrow.

Steps for the day 19,784 (13.47 km)


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8th May 2015
Korean light show on kimchi jars

Bravo for braving a World's Fair!
I've always been afraid they'd be too crowded, so I admire you for going and reporting. Too bad most exhibits were into self-promotion and didn't showcase efforts to feed the world, but good for those that did. In 2004, in Barcelona, I attended a Universal Forum for Cultures, partly sponsored by UNESCO and learned so much. Well, thanks for saving me from having to go to the next Expo!
11th May 2015
Korean light show on kimchi jars

Maybe not in the first week?!
Hi Tara, I think it is probably unwise to attend a World's Fair during Week 1 as it was obvious that some sections of the site were still a bit underdone. I think we would consider going again if the theme interested us BUT I think we would also wait until other people had posted their thoughts on social media so that we could attend with a much better idea of which pavilions would be the best ones to visit. Cheers, Tracey.

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