Did you know that the Eiffel Tower was made to be the entrance arch for the 1889 World Fair in Paris? The people loved it so much that it was never taken down once the fair was over.
The Milan World Fair, or Milan Expo, didn’t have anything that could be even remotely compared to an Eiffel Tower, but I will say that it was way bigger than I could have imagined. After our 3 hour train from Montreux, we were pulling into Milan when the train announced the stop for the Expo. So we just figured, what the heck? Let’s stop and do this today. So we got off the train, were directed by some Expo employees with barely-passable English to a bag drop, and made the longer than expected walk to the front gates.
The theme of the Expo was food and what technologies and methods could be used to better solve the world’s imbalance of food resources. There were over 140 countries participating, almost all of whom had built enormous buildings in their designated pavilion area. The entire fair was set up along a very long central walkway, and although I don’t know the exact distance, I know that I couldn’t see one end when standing at the other.
We saw some wonderful exhibits. A person could spend weeks here and not see everything, but I felt good about what we saw. We went through the exhibits from Brazil, Colombia, the USA (naturally), China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Oman, Angola, and others. As I could have guessed, the exhibits from Japan and Korea were mostly just thinly veiled excuses to show off some cool tech. And the Angola exhibit, while impressive, was obviously only there to try getting tourists to come (as evidenced by the free handout of an Angola tourism pamphlet).
I tried visiting the exhibit from Benin (where I lived for 2 years as a missionary) but, unsurprising to those who have spent any time there, the Benin exhibit wasn’t open. One thing we did get to do while we were there was eat lunch at the USA pavilion, which was pulled pork barbecue sandwiches. Delicious!
Once we were done with the Expo we collected our bags and made our way back to Milan, and not even knowing where we were staying we got off the train at a random stop and sat in a nearby park as we looked for hostels online. After about an hour of waiting for horrendously slow internet to load, I finally called the nearest hotel, fearing a huge room price but so tired I would consider it. I was very happily surprised by a very cheap fare with breakfast included. So we got there, checked in, relaxed our feet from the seven hours of straight walking at he Expo, and asked the consierge about restaurant recommendations. And I’m so glad we did.
The little place he suggested was perfect. Probably family run by the look and size of it. The prices were totally fair, and the menu wasn’t in English (always a good sign of authentic food) and didn’t have pictures (a good sign that it isn’t for tourists). I just asked the charming older gentleman, who was the only waiter at the 5 table establishment, what his favorite thing on the menu was, and I ordered it. It was a type of pasta I’ve never had before, with a sausage mushroom and truffle sauce. I’ve never loved mushrooms more in my life. It was absolutely delicious and I was perfectly filled when it was done. Just the best meal possible. I’m loving Italy. I’ve been here twice before, but this time feels different. Last time it was with a big school tour or my family. As great as both those trips were, this time it’s just us. No schedule, no expectations. Just enjoying each day as it comes. And I couldn’t be loving it more.