So here you are: you’ve finally decided to treat yourself with something and you thought, or perhaps you’re thinking, to choose a trip to Milan, Italy. A beautiful city per se, this year Milan is also hosting the every 5 year occurring event Expo, a thematic exhibition in which almost every country participates. This year theme is “Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life”, which is essentially food.
Picture a place for which countries from all around the world have put their best minds to work in order to put together the most wonderful, high-tech, entertaining and singular experiences, all of which revolve around the most interesting topic of food.
Seems difficult to picture something like this, doesn’t it? That’s because Expo is a precious, small fold of the world, with its own rules and ways which you need to know if you want to make the most out of it. This is something that, as an ex volunteer, I decided to write about so you can fully enjoy your experience.
1. Tickets. First things first, you’ll have to enter somehow. Although there is the possibility to buy the tickets there before entering, I strongly advise you to buy them online, to avoid a long and unnecessary queue. You can find them on this site: Expo Milano 2015
There are several options, deals and prices to meet your needs.
2. How to get there. There is more than one entrance to Expo. I would advise everyone to enter from RHO FIERA. From there you find yourself in the Expo almost immediately, while from other entrances you’ll have to walk quite a lot and trust me, you need to save energy. Moreover, you can get there in many different ways, such as by using the red line of the metro or by taking the train. Many trains stop there.
3. Orientate. Now that you are there you need to find a map. The map is your buddy, your lifesaver and you should always, always have one. The maps are being distributed for free by the volunteers with the white, blue and pink t-shirt. They have them both in Italian and English-
DO NOT BUY A MAP. Volunteers give them to you for free, people may try and illegally sell them to you so ignore them.
4. Know what you came there for. The Expo is huge and impossible to visit in one day. However, some pavilions are not worth seeing. I would read a couple of articles on the pavilions online, so you know more or less what the perks are of every one, and then select the ones that interest you the most.
To be honest, I found the biggest ones to be the least interesting, such as the United Arab Emirates, China, Mexico and Brazil, while some small ones turned out to be amazing, such as Austria, Azerbaijan, Poland, Monaco, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Israel. Of course it depends on what interests you. I would avoid the clusters if I were you, unless you hear about some deal that’s going on there.
5. Stay hydrated, dress comfortably and use sunscreen. As I said before, Expo is huge and you’ll have to walk a lot. It’s true that there are small shuttles which go around it (they call them People Movers), but they are almost always unbearably crowded and will make you lose a lot of time. All of this to say that wearing comfortable shoes is a must. I’d also wear comfy clothes that are light and let you move freely. Temperature shifts are also very common, the pavilions have air conditioning but outside feels like hell on earth when the sun is up (in June we had 34 °C). That’s why sunscreen is a must as well.
I guarantee you that you’ll sweat a lot and, without realizing it, you’ll get exhausted and you’ll feel like you’re about to faint. In order to avoid that, drink loads of water but DO NOT BUY IT! Bottled water is very expensive at Expo but they have installed water dispensers all over the place that will give you free, clean and cool water (also sparkling water). The only thing you have to remember is to bring a container of some sort. Everything is written on the map but if you can’t find something, ask the volunteers.
6. Keep an eye out for deals. Deals and tastings are the best, especially in a place where nothing is cheap. I would advise you again to look them up before hand (because I’m sure there are so many more) but here is what I’ve found out:
- In Qatar they make hennè tattoos for free. They are amazing at it, as it takes them only 45 seconds to make a perfect one, so do not be discouraged by the line if there is one. The tattoos are long lasting (I’ve had mine for a week and a half and it’s only now begun to fade), so think about it before doing it.
- In Russia, starting from 6.00 pm until 8.00 pm they give you a shot of vodka and a tasting of white fish for free.
- Food is expensive, but not everywhere. In Belgium you can have a very big quantity of fries for 4 euros (I guarantee you won’t be hungry for dinner later).
- In Holland/ The Netherlands there are many food options. South Korea is relatively cheap as well and particularly good.
- In the fifteen days I’ve spent there I had developed a plan. Take something of everything and then share it with one or two people. This way you’ll have the opportunity to taste the most while paying the least.
- If you go to Belgium in the morning there will be a chocolatier making chocolates and you’ll be able to taste them.
- In Turkey they give you free Turkish coffee.
- In Poland starting from 1.00 pm they give tastings.
- In Czech republic they sell delicious big wafers for cheap.
- If you go to Lindt you’ll get free chocolate
7. … And amazing concerts. Sometimes they use speakers to publicize events or deals so listen to them.
Moreover, going around you may find that many pavilions have concerts or parades, which are totally worth listening to.
8. The tree of life. Stay until 9.30 pm to see the amazing show of the Tree. Lights, water games and music for a breathtaking view. Go there at 9.15 to get seats.