EXPO 2000 in Hanover, Germany

I arrived at Hanover airport with a 1-hour delay. The way to the railway station from terminal 1 is quite far but trains leave every 15 minutes for the 20-minute ride. There was no staff at the platform, and only foreigners trying to use the ticket vending machine. Nobody managed to pay by DM banknotes, I do not know why. I had coins to change a 10 DM note and these people could get their ticket to the Main station, paying DM 6.20 and getting change back. I did not have to buy a ticket as the expo ticket included this price already.

If you come only for the day, use the baggage depository in Hall 13 at the West Entrance where you enter coming by new train from Hanover Airport. 5 DM.
Expo itself is huge affair on two different levels separated by a huge staircase that seemed unending. (They have an elevator for wheel chairs and otherwise tired people!) There are 2 cableways from the ends to the centre, quite enjoyable if it were not for the many steps at the centre to reach the platform. No lifts, no escalators despite the 5 DM charge one way (return from each end to centre to end is DM 20). If you are at the middle station, it is well worth going to one end and then walk back visiting the pavilions of your choice. The view over the whole site is quite impressive though.

Food and drink are expensive, as is expected in such places. A French Baguette with cheese and a slice of bacon is 10 DM, a Coke or Mineral water DM 5, a ¼ Chicken with potatoes and green beans is DM 22. A meal at the top French restaurant comes to DM 90 without wines, in the Norwegian from DM 80. I have eaten well and was superbly advised at the restaurant in the brand new SAS Radisson Hotel accessible from inside Expo. However, rooms there are super costly: 500 DM and up. A convenient and reasonable priced hotel is the Best Western Park Hotel Kronsberg, 5 minutes walk from the Radisson SAS Main Entrance where you can also enter and even re-enter with your ticket. Most Stores are doing extremely poor business due to very slow attendance. The Commissioner General’s has recently announced another DM 50 million advertising blitz to improve the poor record.

Overall, everybody seems to be on a strict budget. That is apparent in the construction of the pavilions and the missing people comforts such as elevators. Many of the audiovisual presentations have not been made for Expo but have been recycled with some improvements from other fairs and expositions.

Pavilions and sights not to be missed.

As you come out of hall 13 West, check if the Bhutan temple has a waiting line. It is worth to wait 10 minutes or so. The walk along to Hall 9 or take the free shuttle bus to Hall 10.

Hall 9 West:
1. Planet of Visions-The 21st Century (take enough time! The best at Expo!)

East Pavilions
2. Bertelsmann Planet m (for media) 3 part show, all enjoyable, ¾ h.
3. France (OK show and they have also a good bistro and fine restaurant)
4. Holland (excellent view from the top, otherwise also interesting)
5. Finland (wonderful sceneries, birch forest, nice girls)
6. Swiss (nothing much but very innovative like the Tree of Lights in Osaka in 1970. They serve the best espresso at Expo for 3.50, Cappuccino for 4 DM.

The numbers are not in order of greatness but in the flow. At 1, 2 and 5, there is often a 1 hour waiting time (NL ½ hour), so try to see it around 6:30/7 PM during week days or at the very start in the morning. They open at 9 AM and the pavilions at 9:30 so there is enough time to be among the first to enter. Day entrance is DM 65, evening from 7 is DM 15 but they let you in at 6:30 already.

If you have enough time, also see Mexico, Japan, Nepal, Germany, Ireland and China and take a trip on the Giant Wheel for an excellent look from the top. Do not waste your time for Australia, Korea, Holy See, and the Flambée at the Expo Lake across from Australia for the 10:45 PM show. Better have a good night’s sleep. For fanatics and bungee jumpers: try the Sky Jump in front of the Japan Pavilion! The DSD Cycle Bowl is also right next to it. Those interested in Mobility, Future of Work, Science, Energy, Health, Nutrition, Basic Needs, Environment and mankind, go see the exhibits in Halls 4, 5, 6 and 7 on the West side.

During my visit, the Swiss Minister of Justice and Police, Mrs.Ruth Metzler, was also there as VIP of the Swiss Pavillion. I had the priviledge of accompanying her with her entourage during the visits without any waiting. After lunch at the Swiss Pavillion, we had a ride on the tallest Giant Wheel, preceded by a glass of Sekt offered by the Swiss owners.

One of the two vice managers of the Swiss Exhibit in Hanover was Werner Sutter whom I got to know as the number 2 man of the Swiss Pavilion at EXPO 70 in Osaka, Japan. We have kept in touch all those 30 years.

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