Last weekend was the annual European Union Embassy Open House, 27 embassies, from all the countries represented in the EU, open up their doors to the general public and offer music, food, and information about culture and life within their respective societies. The experience is well worth it, but, since lines were so long and the buses almost always full, I was only able to make it to two embassies, the Spain and Germany.
I started the day by grabbing one of the metro trains into DC. The best part of the metro system is its reach. It will take you almost anywhere you need to go within DC, and the EU open house organized bus lines to pick up/drop off at metro stops, making getting to the embassies easy.
Our first stop was the Spanish embassy, right off of the Foggy Bottom exit of the Blue/Orange line metro. The embassy is extremely pretty from the outside, due to the fact that they managed to preserve the old facade of the original building and add a modern aspect behind the facade.
The inside of the embassy was done in dark green marble, very pretty to look at, although the experience was a little in-and-out. We were able to see the reception area, some of the offices, and a meeting room where we were fed juice and spanish cookies (great macaroons).
After that it was out the door and over to the bus to make it to the German embassy.
After waiting for about 40 minutes to get on the bus, I rode up to the German Embassy in the middle of Georgetown, which by the way, is absolutely beautiful and very pedestrian friendly.
The German Embassy is massive, easily 10 times larger than the Spanish embassy, and it was also the place that had the most going on.
This is the line to security and one of the buildings:
The embassy had displays from Lufthansa (tourist information), a soccer kick game (put the ball through the hole, win prizes!), and a power-bike where volunteers produced power by riding a stationary bike. Once inside, there were multiple booths forwarding the EU theme of the year – going green. Each embassy as giving out reusable bags and showcasing their use of wind, solar, and human power.
Also featured were speed learning courses: German language, history, culture, and trivia.
Once out back of the main embassy concourse (the large building with the cross-hatch pipes in the previous image), there was the food stand – large bratwursts with spicy mustard was the food of the day, along with a german lager and samples of other German cuisine such as Doener and cold cuts.
I managed to spend three hours at the embassy, and by the time I was finished, it was too late to get to any of the other embassies, but there is always next year.
Overall, the experience was a lot of fun, and very informative on the culture, life, and food of the EU. There were problems though – the buses were constantly crowded and there were not enough of them to move from embassy to embassy quickly and efficiently. The embassy lines were also extremely long and often it required a wait of 30+ minutes to do anything interesting.
This presentation outlines some of the problems and their solutions well.
After a full day of fun, I took the metro back to Dupont circle for a brief walk around one of the night-life centers of DC.
That was also the most non-homeless people I have every seen in DuPont at once.
I would strongly encourage anyone interested in the EU or any of the European nations to attend this event if they can, it is held every year and is a great source of information and fun, despite the problems.
More to come soon.