Expo Saragossa Review
I have just been to the Expo in Saragossa (Zaragoza in Spanish), Spain with my wife, child and parents. Right off the bat I can say that before visiting Expo Saragossa, preparation is the key (reading about Expo Saragossa on the Internet is a step in the right direction). When we got there we were unprepared. We didn't know which exhibits to visit nor where to start.
Expo Saragossa is a Large international exhibition where countries are invited to promote themselves by exhibiting information about their country and how they take care of a chosen theme. Expo Saragossa 2008's theme is “Water and Sustainable Development”.
Here is our review of Expo Saragossa 2008...
Saragossa is about 450km away from us, so we decide to do it it all in one day. I already knew that wouldn't be enough time to see the Expo, but we decided that was all the time and money we wanted to spend.
After driving for four hours, we arrived just as the car parks opened (09:00). The ticket office opens a little later (09:15) followed by the Saragossa Expo itself (09:30). As we were near the front of the queue, it wasn't long before we were through and heading over the interesting “Pabellón Puente” bridge to the main Expo area.
The first thing we said to ourselves was “what do we do now” and decided to simply head on over to whatever Pavilions didn't have any queues. There is a reason for this, the pavilions without queues are possibly the worst. Check out my WORST Pavilions of Saragossa Expo list.
One of the biggest things to note about the Saragossa Expo, is that large digital displays, video and touch screens are rife. The problem is most exhibitors bombarded the visitors with images without telling a story or flowing information in a concise easy to read manner. The result was disjointed rooms full to the brim of images and words to the point you just wanted to get the hell out and have coffee. Thankfully even though it was true for some, it wasn't true of all Expo Saragossa's exhibits (more on this in a minute).
By about midday we had seen mostly mediocre exhibits and many of complety rubbish exhibits.
Feeling not that amazed with Expo Saragossa, we sat down for something to eat and drink. While we were eating there was an announcement (which we didn't quite hear) about some upcoming event. The Expo Saragossa staff explained to me that a 'Cirque du Soleil' parade was about to start.
Rock on! the Cirque du Soleil parade was a
real hit. Not the worlds largest parade, but it had a large number of acts and went on for over an hour, stopping in (I think) four different locations while the dancers, jugglers and
Performers went about various routines on the moving stage.
This alone was almost worth the ticket price.
Feeling motivated, we decided to take a look at some of the non country exhibits Expo Saragossa had to offer. There were a number of buildings along the waterfront with themes related to water conservation, use and recycling/environmentally friendly concepts. These were for the most part, all quite interesting. Lots of moving mechanical things and flowing water, just as you would expect for the Water and Sustainable Development theme chosen for Expo Saragossa.
Queues through the day, shaped the way we wandered, we tried to avoid the Expo Saragossa queues mainly because of the heat. Not enough shade was provided for people in the queues.
At two o'clock we decided to head back along the “Avenida 2008” (2008 Avenue) and stop at two of the exhibits with long queues to see what the fuss was about. We chose Japan and Germany because we like those countries and the cultures and settled down for about 1:30 hours wait (the same for each).
The Japanese Exhibit started with a massive 3 walled video movie with 3D sound and lighting effects. It told the story of how people through the ages in Japan handled water. Certainly a reasonably entertaining story, if you speak Spanish (my wife and I do, my parents aren't so lucky).
Although it was certainly a great spectacle it was marred by a major problem that Expo Saragossa 2008 suffered from. Not enough English translation. These days English is considered the language we should communicate in if we don't speak any other common language. While I applaud the use of Spanish (after all Expo Saragossa is in Spain) and French, I thought that English translations should have been used everywhere, not almost everywhere.
After the Japanese video finished, revealing a massive waterfall the exhibit trailed off into the same old story, big digital prints and too many words, then suddenly you were outside once again.
All in all the day had been reasonably fun but we almost decided not to wait another hour and a half to get into the German pavilion. That would have been a great mistake.
The German pavilion of the 2008 Expo Saragossa was superb. It was just perfect. It had clear simple kiosk sized installations with interactive mechanical models showing you how Germany and Germans sanitized, collected and distributed the water for its millions of inhabitants. They really were succinct (explanations often required only one sentence), inviting and above all fun.
Those interactive exhibits typified high German standards of quality and precision and really did do their country a service while also being very informative.
But that was just the second part of the German Pavilion. The first part was an amazing water ride. Not a thrill ride, just a leisurely boat ride through a beautiful display tunnel, after a our long day we could have all fallen asleep. It was fantastic, informative (told the whole story of the importance of water to Germany and how the resource is managed in FOUR languages) and entertaining.
The German Pavilion of Expo Saragossa and the Cirque du Soleil' parades are certainly must see parts of Expo Saragossa 2008.
We left Expo Saragossa at 8pm and arrived home at 1:00am the next day. Whew...
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