We had the opportunity to visit some of the embassies of countries that are members of the European Union in Washington, D.C. on May 11, 2013. This event is called the EU Embassies Open House and is a free annual event from Cultural Tourism DC that is clearly very popular! You get a pamphlet (“passport”) with a map and places for the embassies to stamp your “passport”. Free shuttles are available and were tremendously helpful since the embassies are not all in one area. Just by me saying it’s a popular event doesn’t really give an accurate picture. Lines to get into to some of the embassies were hundreds of feet long. We didn’t get into some of the ones we planned on, but once inside every experience was different. We really had no idea what to expect from an open house of embassies.
We were able to visit the embassies of: The United Kingdom, Finland, Denmark, and Malta. Our first stop was Finland and it had amazing design elements in the building. You definitely knew you were in the right place. They had a system set up somewhat like an expo with tables lining the walls with samples of products and foods from Finland. It was incredibly interactive and a lot of fun! The samples ranged from lingonberry juice to cheese to facial products. When you leave you get bag full of great information about the country.
Next we headed to the United Kindgom! It was like a castle with a relatively large estate considering its placement in D.C. There were also expo-type booths here as well, but they were more publicizing their defense program. One really great element was the showcase of British motors. Beautiful cars were on display while you waited to get into the residence and gardens. The residence was grand and very reminiscent of European high society style. The rose garden would certainly be a very peaceful place to spend time (if not for the open house!). Actors were there in period dress which was a nice touch. Also showcased was British television. We’re big fans of Doctor Who and Downton Abbey along with other shows we occasionally get to watch. Probably about 30% of our television favorites are from the U.K.
We went to check out the Italian embassy but that was one of the longest lines around…and we heard that it always is a crazy wait. So, up the hill to Denmark we walked. This is a very tucked away embassy on a narrow road. They had food for sale, a bike test for kids, and also showcased their defense program. We were able to get inside the embassy area where there was more information on their use of water. The residence had timed tours and we were a little too late to get inside, but it looked lovely.
Finally, after getting some much needed lunch and sit-down time at The Burger Joint, we walked up to Malta. Situated inside a townhouse was a fully functioning embassy with security that has been in place since the 1960’s. This was one of the more interesting visits since we were able to sit down in the ambassor’s office and listen to the history of the county by the highest-ranking official in the embassy. If you haven’t looked into Malta, you really should. It’s a small country with a lot of history and great weather. We really enjoyed this event and are looking forward to next year.
Along with the EU Embassy Open House, there was an Around the World Embassy Open House the weekend before. We were not able to go due to work schedules, but maybe it will be possible next year!