Last week I went to Oslo for the first time in many years, and something I was very excited to finally see was the Opera House. I have read and seen so many photos of the beautiful building, so it was about time I got to experience it myself.
The Opera House is located in the Bjørvika neighbourhood in central Oslo, right at the head of the Oslofjord. It was designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta and completed in 2007, and has since then won the culture award at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona in October 2008 as well as the 2009 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture.
The angled exterior surfaces of the building are covered with Italian marble from Carrara and white granite, and the design makes it appear to be rising from the water. This is such a clever way to join the surrounding nature, fjord and city together as one. Snøhetta wanted to make the roof of the building a public space, a centre point that would be available for everyone in Oslo which they have achieved.
The interior is also very spectacular with a lot of oak, aluminium and large glass facades. They are open every day, and even have guided tours around inside the building if you are interested in seeing more. Or you can simply go there for a lovely lunch on the harbour side like we did!
Last week I finally went back to the EXPO to spend the whole day there. It was very helpful to have had an evening there before (more about that here) to get an overview so that we knew exactly what we wanted to experience and see.
If you haven’t heard of the EXPO yet, here is a quick introduction; EXPO Milano 2015 is a Universal Exhibition from May 1st to October 31st where 145 participating countries is showcasing their answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone while respecting the planet and it’s equilibrium. Under the slogan ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ the 2 million square meter large exhibition space has become the place to be if you want to experience food, design and culture from all over the world.
Visitors can purchase their own EXPO passport at the entrance which, like a normal passport, has space for receiving stamps from each country you visit. This means that you end up with a little visual diary, a great way to remember what you did and look back on later. I loved collecting the stamps, it is such a great idea for both kids and grown-ups to make the EXPO experience even better. Here you can see a sneak-peak inside my passport;
The first pavilion we went to was the Brazilian Pavilion, because we had heard it was one of the best attractions and something that had to be experienced. The reason being it consists of a beautifully designed structure containing a large suspended net where visitors are invited to join in on a multi-sensory and immersive experience. It was fun trying to walk the net, and at one point I ended up hand-in-hand with an older woman needing help balancing as it was quite a difficult task to cross it. Underneath the net you can find a Green Gallery with different plants, flowers and fruits from Brazil.
“The net is the materialization of the concept ‘Feeding the world with solutions’ and act as a metaphor of flexibility, fluidity and decentralization to represent the bounds and the integration of different topics and players creating, once combined, the true Brazilian role in producing quality food to satisfy global demand in a technological and sustainable way, perfectly in line with Expo main theme.” – EXPO website
After that we went to the Angola Pavilion. It has a spectacular exterior with a wooden geometric shaped surface which comes from the typical Angolan printed fabrics. The surface allows natural light to enter the rooms inside, and gives a nice effect throughout the structure. The exhibition area’s inside has the theme ‘Food and culture, educate to innovate’, and it shows the country’s natural food resources as well as focusing on the culture and soul of the nation in the four chapters; origins, growth, sustainability and future.
I loved walking through the exhibition learning about the country, and especially enjoyed the unexpected light and sound show that suddenly happened in the middle of our visit replicating a storm followed by tribal music and sounds. This happened as I entered the center of the sacred African baobab tree which made it even more magical.
“The Pavilion of Angola has an architectural concept inspired by a representation of the ‘imbondeiro’, the sacred African baobab tree in the Angolan culture. The tree will also be the starting point from which visitors start a cultural and gastronomic journey inside the Pavilion through which they become acquainted with the content of the Angola.” – EXPO website
Then it was time for a sit-down and a snack so we made a little stop in Belgium where we enjoyed some lovely fries before heading over to the Republic of Korea Pavilion. This was a very modern and simplistic structure where the use of highly advanced science and technology in the fields of food, environment, and human physiology was showcasing their diverse culinary practices. One of the main attractions was a robot show with two screens showcasing the process of fermentation in Korean cuisine.
“The overarching theme of the Korea Pavilion is to promote a more sustainable way of life through healthy eating. Under the banner ‘Hansik, Food for the Future: You are What You Eat’ the exhibition will showcase how a healthy diet can affect one’s outlook and appearance on life. What we eat and how we eat all reflect the way we are. A healthier diet will not only help us make the most out of life but also preserve the environment around us.” – EXPO website
After a walk around and a brief stop near China eating some Ramen noodles & gyozas we decided to go to the Italian area, and couldn’t resist checking out the Fab Food. The factory of Italian taste exhibition mainly because of this amazing entrance! It is spread over ten rooms and focuses mainly on kids, schools and families with a lot of games such as the ‘Juke Box of Wishes’ where visitors can play choosing their favourite Italian dishes and see how they are created.
Next to the Fab Food exhibition is the L’aperitivo Italiano terrazza Martini, which offers a 360° view of the EXPO site. Here we could sit in the shadow underneath an umbrella away from the stress and crowds while enjoying a lovely Martini Royal cocktail along with a nicely presented aperitivo plate. La dolce vita!
One of the other pavilions I had heard so much about and wanted to see was the Austrian Pavilion. Here visitors can take a breath in the small scale Austrian forest that provides 62.5 kilograms of fresh oxygen every hour. It is a very relaxing and refreshing experience, and you forget where you are for a moment. Perfect place to cool down on a hot day (which is most days in the Milan summer)..
“With ‘BREATHE’ Austria is making an incisive contribution to the theme ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ at the Expo Milan 2015. ‘BREATHE’ highlights the No.1 source of nourishment and one of the most important resources for an international audience: AIR. Architecture, Nature, Culture and Research are brought together to offer the visitor a personal experience.” – Klaus K. Loenhart
Then it was time to eat again, and we ended up going back to the Japanese Pavillion as we enjoyed the food there so much last time we went. I had the Chicken Katsu curry this time as it is something I used to eat quite a lot when living in London and can’t seem to find here in Milan, and it was very delicious. We ended the day again with watching the Tree of Life evening show which is a must, before heading home.
I highly recommend people to visit the EXPO, and would suggest reading up on it beforehand to have a view of which areas you would like to visit as there are so much to see and not enough time. I will definitely go back soon as there are still so many pavilions I want to experience, and also to hopefully fill up my passport! Get your ticket here.
I spotted these animals on random manholes around outside La Fabbrica del Vapore today, which is a space open to young creative people. Not sure who did it, but I think it’s a fun way to brighten up a quite industrial space.
While walking around Milan on Saturday I spotted these sweets treats along the road near Parco Sempione. They are streetart created by Urbansolid, and I think they are so cute. Definitely makes it more fun to walk around town when you suddently spot a giant cupcake!
This is a panettone, a type of sweet bread originally from Milan which is usually enjoyed for Christmas and New Year in Italy.
I could only find these two this time, but will keep an eye out for any other cakes along my way.
When travelling back to Italy this week I spotted this new Absolut Honey vodka bottle at Frankfurt Airport. It is the travel retail exclusive limited edition, and is said to ‘capture the liveliness of summer nights in a selection of fresh cocktails’. The idea behind the campaign is that the travelers can create and share a ‘Honey I’m coming home’ GIF, presented through the app PHHHOTO here. I think the bottle and concept is a great idea, and have to applaud Absolut for yet again creating a fun and creative campaign.
“Creating an exciting product and a unique brand experience is what Absolut is recognised for across the globe – and that’s what we have achieved with Absolut Honey. It has been crafted with a bold new honey taste, whilst the iconic Absolut bottle artistically expresses the core essence of the flavour. Absolut Honey is all about the essence of a laid back summer and that’s what we have captured within this limited edition vodka.” – Pia Hägglöf