|A DELIGHTFULLY EXHAUSTING EXPERIENCE
A WESTERNER VISITS EXPO
Mr. Gray is a free-lance writer from Calgary. He usually writes on western subjects but in this article and the next one, he writes about Expo as he saw it recently.
By JAMES H. GRAY
Special Journal Correspondence
CALGARY (Special) -- Next to money, there are three prime requisites to enjoyment of Expo '67 -- time combined with a saintly tolerance for humanity in the mass.
The flood of ecstatic prose that has been flowing from the writers who have seen Expo on special tours and previews is all true. No one has yet done justice to the magnificence of this show. But the ordinary fair-goers will need dualities of mind and body that the press previewers never needed.
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NONE OF THEM had to stand in line for an hour running, or fight their way from one pavilion to another. They were guided around, and in and out of back doors. The Expo of the cash customers is a different world to the one everyone had been writing about.
How much time will you need to see Expo is in its entirety, to enjoy to the full the magnificence of the spectacle being presented? The question of time is like the question of money. It will cost you whatever you can afford to spend.
To visit all the exhibits on a quick glance basis will take a minimum of 10 days. Given good feet and leg muscles, patience and tolerance and developed special interests, a month would not be too long.
True, residents of Québec, Ottawa and Toronto - Hamilton may get the job done by one-day-at-a-time commuting during the summer.
But for the people of more remote regions, visits of less than four days will not be worth making.
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WE SPENT almost 50 hours at Expo over a stretch of six days. During most of that period a siege of rainy weather kept the crowds down to about 150,000 a day. Thus the queues were short and we got into and out of the pavilions with very little delay. And we saw barely half the show!
We managed to visit only four out of 10 theme pavilions. In some of these pavilions there were up to four separate exhibits.
We made scarcely half the national pavilions and only two of the provincial shows. We took in none of the theatrical performances. It was an exhausting experience both mentally and physically but delightfully so.
The problem which besets every visitor to Expo is illustrated by the experience of a Regina business acquaintance. He was in Toronto with a Sunday to kill so he took an early morning flight to Expo with the idea of giving it a quick once-over.
He joined a throng of 350,000. By the time he had ridden around the grounds on the Expo Express and the Minirail, the morning was gone. He joined the queue at the Russian pavilion and found it so full of fascinating things and people that he was there until closing time that night.
In sharp contrast, that day, were the thousands of Montréalers who were rushing in and out of one pavilion after another with nothing more in mind than having their Expo passports stamped.
But for outsiders, the urge to stop and stare and discuss will be irresistible in most of the national and cultural pavilions.
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Worse, there will be a mounting need to visit many of the exhibits a second and a third time.
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PERHAPS THE worst mistake visitors can make will be to concentrate on the well-publicized pavilions. Some of the smallest nations in the world have come up with exhibits that put the richest nations to shame. Most fairgoers discover this by accident.
On a fine day, the queues in front of the big nation pavilions become so large that you look around for buildings where the line-ups are shorter. The queues are usually shorter at the small nations so visitors flock there, and the queues build there too.
Many of the pavilions have seats for the sore-footed. On a fine day there are even waiting lines of people prepared to dart into the first vacated chair or bench.
The punishment to wind and limb comes not alone from touring through the exhibits. Expo itself is so vast that getting from here to there is both time and energy consuming.
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COVERING ABOUT 1,000 acres, Expo is spread over two narrow islands and a long quay. The islands are broken up, attractively, by ponds and waterways which, unhappily, have to be walked around to get from one pavilion to another.
The transportation to, from and on Expo is superbly efficient. But there is no avoidance of queues which are harder on the feet and muscles than walking. On a big day, it can take up to 45 minutes of standing in line to get onto the minirail.
The hours spent standing in lines at such exhibits as the Telephone Pavilion, the Czechoslovakian movies etc. are never regretted.
But the cumulative effect is hard on feet, and totally destructive to any tight time schedule.
The impatient, of course, are everywhere. But as they sneak up in the lines and dart from queue to queue they frequently become direction-fouled and wind up back there they started.
At Expo, it is often the slowest moving line that make the most headway. But it is headway at a pace that will ruin Expo for the unwary who think they can get anything out of it in a two-day excursion.
- End of article. Copyright by The Ottawa Journal, May 25, 1967. All rights reserved.