Milan Expo: Part 1

2015-05-15 13.22.58 I’ve often wondered whether it will be the things I do, or the things I don’t do that I will regret the most. Everyone has that question in their mind, though some lodge it further back there than others, perhaps out of fear for what the answer may be. For me, there is one thing that I’m very glad did not fall onto that list of things not done…

Ok well, there are a few more than one, but there’s only one I’m going to share with you, the internet public, and that is the Milan Expo 2015. I remember first reading about the Milan Expo on a random website shortly after booking my trip to Italy.  Flights to Milan were about half as expensive as flights to any other Italian city so we decided to book our flights into and out of Milan and travel to our true destinations by train. Milan was supposed to be nothing other than a gateway to other adventures. Even after reading about this Expo, I thought “if we had some more time it would be interesting to go, but no big loss if we don’t”. The more I read about it though, the more intrigued I became. The problem was, I only had about half a day in Milan. The day I landed I had to hop straight on a train to Naples, but at the end of the trip, there was a small window the day before my flight home where I just might be able to make it work. But could it really be worth it?

With the train getting into Milan around 12pm, that meant that by the time I dropped my suitcase off and got onto the train to the Expo I was looking at starting there around 2pm. As if that wasn’t reason enough there was a forecast for rain all afternoon. Not to mention that entry alone was almost €50! I had already had a great time in Rome and Naples, surely I could still go home satisfied, right? Something in the back of my head kept nagging me. I kept thinking to myself that as far as “Once in a lifetime experiences” go, this ranks right up there. The Expo only lasts until October and I knew the odds that I would be in Milan again before that were about as close to 0 as you could get. Not entirely convinced it was the right thing to do, I bought a round trip subway ticket to the expo and hopped on the train.

It was about a 40 minute train ride from downtown Milan, and at around the halfway point the tracks emerge from underground. Just in time for me to notice the storm clouds gathering. Optimistic the rain would hold and the clouds would pass (and stuck on the train anyway), I continued on to the Expo stop. It’s a large station and by the time I got out from inside, it had started to pour. Perfect timing really. With no coat, umbrella or poncho I continued on to the front gate undeterred, at least until I learned I had to walk all the way back to the train station to buy the ticket to get in. With my round trip ticket back to Milan already in hand, I was tempted to hop on the next downtown bound train. Sure enough I even had to walk past the stairs to the train platform to get to the Expo ticket office. “This is my only chance” I repeated in my head.2015-05-15 14.02.24With an Expo ticket in hand and the rain picking up, I made my way back to the gate and entered the grounds of the Expo. Sure that nearly everything would be closed and all the visitors headed toward the exit, I continued to make my way towards the main exhibit hall. It was there I saw what I thought must have been a Tuscan mirage: an awning. It was neither a mirage, nor as I feared, a non-functional work of art, but an actual roof. My hope rekindled that maybe 25% of this expo might still be open under this awning, I turned the corner to the long walkway and realized this awning spanned the entire length of the Expo! Sometimes the stars align and you catch a break.

2015-05-15 14.14.27Had I turned around at the first drop of rain or decided not to get on the train in the first place, I’m sure I would have regretted it for a day, or a week or maybe a month. It’s not that big of a deal in the States and I can’t say I’ve heard many people talking about it since (and certainly none that I know in person). It’s a hard feeling to describe, but it was only after seeing and enjoying everything that this Expo had to offer that felt horrified that I almost missed it. It really was a fantastic, once in a lifetime experience, and one that I almost missed.

I would highly recommend that anyone who can go, does go. Considering a trip to Milan isn’t exactly a casual weekend trip for most, I’ll do my best to capture what made this such a great experience.  Since I’ve already written a short story and haven’t even gotten to talking about the exhibits yet I think I just might have to leave this one on a cliff hanger and make y’all wait until part 2…

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