While it’s been very difficult being stuck in one place for the time being, I did have the unique experience of “traveling” to different countries without leaving my hometown of Washington, DC. 2016 was the 10th Anniversary of the EU Embassy Open House event. On a Saturday in May, participating EU countries open their doors and share what makes their country special and unique. Admission is completely free, though there are plenty of options to purchase food, drink, and tokens from each country. I went with my mother and youngest brother, and wow, what a treat! Our first stop was an easy decision: Portugal! The land of my mother’s family. We got in line right before they opened, and then were welcomed by Portuguese music.
Inside was a lovely photography exhibit of various places in Portugal. I just ooed and aahed at all the photos. A lot of them brought back memories of my time in Sintra and Lisboa.
Inside a room was also a display of different artefacts from the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries. It was really neat to see all the various figurines. Though this community is a consequence of colonialism, it’s a nice coalition for today’s modern situation: a unique collection of countries speaking the same language.
The embassy folk led us into a room to watch a tourism video. I got goosebumps looking at all the landscapes of Portugal. I felt an unusual surge of pride for the place half of me calls home. After the video, we got to have some natas and Portuguese wine! Oh how I’ve missed these things!
Next, we ran into a line for the Embassy of Ireland. I heard Irish music from the back of the line, and so went to investigate. There was Irish dancing! Everyone was so lively and upbeat.
Next door was the Romanian Embassy. This was kind of an odd stop for us, but I was curious. When have I ever been exposed to anything Romanian? Unlike the Portuguese and Irish embassies, the Romanian embassy had strict security. This made it a little intimidating at first, but once inside we were treated to some food!
My brother and I made the long voyage across a large bridge and an impressive hill to make it to Italy. At this point in the day the lines were getting pretty long, but we were determined to carry on. The Italian embassy was a huge, modern building. After going through some airport-like security, we entered into a large open room. Music was booming, and people were lining up at all the available booths.
What was most impressive was the outdoor area. They brought in a team with outdoor ovens to cook some delicious pizza. Out on the lawn was also some Italian sports vehicles, including a Lamborghini.
We had time for one more embassy, so we chose Denmark. It was further up the hill, and the line was even longer than Italy’s. Nonetheless, I was excited. Denmark had been a country hidden away from my eyes until I got to spend an eight hour layover in Copenhagen. It was a great experience, and I’m definitely open to learning about Danish culture.
While we were in line, we had the lucky opportunity of seeing the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kristian Jensen, a couple other government official biking up the hill! Inside the Danish embassy complex there were so many booths. Everything seemed extremely hip and forward-thinking. I even had some samples of Flødeboller, chocolate-covered marshmallows on a cookie. They were pretty good!
Living in the DC area for many years now, I had always meant to take advantage of this great event! As my last year living in the US, I was really happy to be able to go. It truly is a unique experience, so if you have the chance, don’t miss it!