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We’ve been raving about EU Open House for years. Maybe too much. The 2018 edition was the most popular we’ve attended. Too popular.

We began the day at the most popular embassy: Belgium. Why is the de facto capital of the European Union so popular? Free Belgium beer (which is better than most non-American beer (America has the best beer in the world thanks to our craft brewing (this is not a plug for Budweiser))) for adults, free Smurf temporary tattoos for kids and free Belgium chocolates for everyone. The country does a fantastic job promoting its old school look and up-and-coming food scene. They make you interested in a country you may only associate with beer and chocolate.

The second most popular embassy of the last few years has been the British Embassy. 2018 is the last year the embassy will participate in EU Open House day. You need to be in the EU to participate in the festivities. Last year one of the dominant themes was the UK is dumb to leave the EU. We didn’t see any of that this year. The British Embassy definitely didn’t mention their exit. Instead they promoted London based events, like the upcoming nuptials between a prince and an America and the upcoming Philadelphia Eagles London game.

The embassy that made me want to visit the country was Finland. Sure, the building itself is gorgeous and eco friendly and reminds you of Cameron’s house in Ferris Bueller, but it wasn’t the setting that piqued our interest. We want to visit Finland because 1. There are more reindeer than humans in Finland, 2. Santa Claus lives in Finland and 3. Finland has the most heavy metal bands per capita. We learned all of these tidbits from the excellent 100 Fun Facts on Finland poster. We also learned they have a 100% literacy rate and really like coffee.

An embassy we visited for the first time that left a positive impression was Denmark. Did you know LEGO’s come from Denmark! They do! Denmark would like to remind you LEGOs hail from Denmark. So they had a life sized LEGO Wonder Woman. And kids were encouraged to build LEGO cars. And both kids and adults built LEGO cars.

Saturday’s event was crowded. Every embassy seemed have a substantial wait. Though lines moved quickly to get people past security and in the gates, lines in the embassies were a little absurd. After waiting an hour outside, do you really want to wait an hour for a tour of the residence? How could this problem be fixed? Make EU Open House day two days.

Though the crowds were a bit too much, I’ll still attend EU Open House 2019. It’s the best way to get a glimpse into other cultures without having to leave NW D.C. Hopefully I’ll leave NW to visit Santa in Finland.