Earlier this year, I went to the New York Times Travel Show. There, I visited the USA Pavilion exhibition where they were planning for Expo Milano. Before the Travel Show, I knew very little about the World Expo. However, the USA Pavilion awoke in me the desire to be part of something I am passionate about: international relations through food. Whether it is business or leisure, I always find food brings people together in ways we sometimes cannot even imagine. Recently, I finally had the opportunity to discover the Expo. All about it….
My Impressions of Expo Milano:
Getting there: Before Expo Milano, the Dutchman and I took a short holiday to Liguria. With a rental car and two early flights on two separate days, we decided to stay near the airport at the Hilton Garden Inn in Malpensa in order to have free parking and not have to wake up as early. When I inquired about transportation to the Expo at the Milan Malpensa Airport Expo Milano booth, I was informed about the pre-paid parking option. I booked my parking spot for 12,50 at the Arese parking spot online and was ready to go. The check-in process was very easy at the parking lot as I just had to scan the barcode provided on my confirmation email. There were plenty of spaces to choose from and it took around 15 minutes to get the the Expo grounds. Dining Traveler Tip: head to Expo Milano on a weekday, less crowds! There are also plenty of public transportation options if not traveling by car.
Being There: From my trip planning, I had an idea of what I wanted to see at Expo Milano and which pavilions interested me the most. However, no prior prep could have prepared me for the massiveness of the Expo. Due to my travel schedule, I had only one day to spend at the Expo. If you have time, I highly recommend you take three days to explore the Expo as the lines to certain exhibitions (for example, Japan had an 80 minute wait!) are pretty long. I had my heart set on going to the Japanese Pavilion but with time of the essence, I decided to explore other exhibitions.
The theme of Expo Milano is food and sustainability. Whether it is vertical farms or aquaponics, every nation involved had its own version on how to address the theme. Upon entering the grounds, the first thing that caught my eye was an organic supermarket. You can get everything from snacks to natural cleaning products with comparable supermarket prices.
Expo Milano Exhibition Highlights
USA Pavilion: I continued to the USA Pavilion which, as all things American, was massive! I enjoyed the open area of the exhibition as it did not require a wait to get in. The first thing that catches your eye upon entering are the moving hydroponic vertical farms with greens followed by big screens with President and Mrs. Obama welcoming guests to the Expo. The exhibition involved interactive exhibitions talking about the changing face of the American food movement. If you head to the top floor of the USA Pavilion, there is a rooftop bar with a beautiful view of Expo Milano. Stay tuned for an upcoming detailed post about USA Pavilion and the James Beard American Restaurant.
Netherlands Pavilion: Another exhibition which caught my eye was the Netherlands Exhibition. Instead of having a closed display, the Dutch had an open exhibition, lined with colorful food trucks with all the Dutch classics: pancakes, fries, and meatballs. The scene was festive with attractive young men and women running the food trucks with upbeat techno music. As you snack on your fries, you can check out their interactive display on sustainable farming.
Belgian Pavilion: Of course I couldn’t help to check out the pavilion of my former home! As you enter the wooden structure, you are taken by the scent of chocolate. As you follow the exhibition, you then are entered into a different world: an aquaponic farming display with water tanks filled with fish. The Belgian Pavilion also has several beautifully decorated restaurants to choose from. If you are craving frites and beer, this is the place for you.
It was disappointing to see the lines for some of the exhibitions I was looking forward to were so long! I had my heart set on Japan, South Korea, and Colombia, but the lines were insanely long. I did not want to miss out on exploring other parts of the expo when I had such a short period of time. Sadly, I left my wallet behind in my car and was not able to indulge the way I wanted to at the Expo when it comes to the abundant dining options. Thankfully, there was a kind soul at the USA Expo which lent me some Euros to get by. Be aware that there is no reentry to the Expo grounds! You are required to purchase a new ticket if you want to return. However, there were a few food concepts I was able to taste. I went for a tasting of Citterio, a classic Italian cured meat company.
I was overwhelmed with the Eataly dining complex. Plenty of goodies to choose from! I felt like a kid again at the Nutella concept café at Eataly. While waiting for my crepe, I printed a Nutella label with my name. Wine lovers like myself will love the Wines of Italy exhibition. You have the opportunity to speak to Italian sommeliers and purchase a wine tasting with hundreds of wines to choose from. (10 Euros for 3 tastings).
I heard conflicting impressions about Expo Milano before my trip. Some people love it, some hate it. In my opinion, is it worth it? Absolutely. This is an interactive event for people of all ages to enjoy. It’s the perfect setting whether you’re traveling solo or multi generational travel.
Dining Traveler Tips to make the most of the experience:
- Book your ticket in advance. Entry is much faster if using a fixed date ticket. You can book your ticket up to 24 hours before the date you plan to attend.
- Make sure you bring everything you need. Reentry is not permitted.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. There’s plenty of walking and waiting!
- It takes at least three days to experience everything Expo Milano has to offer.
- Download the Expo Milano app on your phone. It sends real time alerts on special programs and exhibitions throughout the day.
Have you been to Expo Milano? What were your impressions?