Naturally I had to visit, and with the long weekend and the Expo winding down in October I decided it was now or never. The trip was surprisingly easy - 3 hours by train - and I saw as much Expo as I could handle before my feet basically fell off and I melted into a puddle of exhaustion.
I managed to see most of the big pavilions, but drew the line at anything with a 2-3 hour wait time. Unfortunately, this meant I missed the Italy pavilion, the very cool looking UAE (United Arab Emirates) one, and randomly, Japan. But hey, life is short! And I have the next two years to explore the real Italy (and the next twenty to see how many others I can call home), so I don't really feel like I missed much. I climbed the net in Brazil, watched some great performances in Kazakhstan, got a Pope magnet at the Holy See, did the swings in Estonia, and narrowly escaped being henna-ed by the Mauritian delegation.
Inevitably, a lot of pavilions seemed to repeat the same things. Vertical gardens, bees, sustainability, bees, food insecurity, bees, women in agriculture, and of my goodness what was with all the bees? The UK pavilion was even shaped like a beehive! I know bees are important for agriculture, but the disproportionate focus felt a bit like a conspiracy after a while. So I nominate bees as the secret official theme of the expo.
For me, however, the biggest attraction was the architecture. You see, each country designs it's own pavilion and even though the pavilions are only temporary, they've really pulled out all the stops. If you are anything like me, you were collecting architecture books in elementary school and drawing your own plans before you could tell your left from your right. (What's that you say? That's totally weird and nerdy? Uh...You're right! Who would do that? I'm so glad you and I aren't dorks like those people!) So while I didn't learn that much new information about food, I had a great time checking out all the pavilions and of course, eating as if my life depended on it. The truly exotic pavilions had wait times to match, but I managed to hit some favorites; tacos al pastor - Mexico, bibimbap - South Korea, couscous and friends - Tunisia, apple strudel - Czech Republic, and of course, gelato, courtesy of Italia!
If you are planning a trip I'd say aim for 2-3 days and prioritize what you see. You won't be able to fit in everything, but you can get a pretty good sampling. Just remember, Expo finishes in October so you'd better get planning!
Here are some more photos for the totally not architecture-obsessed. ;)
I love all the color
Poland (made of thousands of apple crates)
Truly amazing 'meadow' recreated inside/on top of the polish pavilion
Didn't make it inside this one, but the outside was intriguing
Germany - lots of countries did a variation on the leaf/shade theme which was much appreciated in the heat
One of the few African countries with a full pavilion - it was very nicely done
China's was super classy
From the inside as well
Here's the same building from the front
Inside the French pavilion
Both the Netherlands and Belgium did a variation of 'street festival'
For a fellow blogger!
For a friend :)
I actually really like this very simple, modern design for the Czech Republic. Except for the art in the pool.