Great Britain is still part of the European Union. Therefore, Great Britain still participates in the EU Openhouse. And they have the best bags. This year’s said JOLLY GOOD BAG. You’re going to see a lot of JOLLY GOOD BAGS at Whole Foods throughout the DMV for the next 12 months.
The EU Openhouse is a chance for everyone to live like a tourist. Nearly 30 participating countries in four different D.C. neighborhoods open their doors. Some give away food. Some sell food. Some give away beer. Some have dancers. Most have music. Nearly all of them have lines. It’s a great D.C. tradition that allows even lifelong residents chances to see new things.
It’s impossible to visit every embassy. It doesn’t matter if you drive, Uber, Metro, bike, walk or take the shuttle bus. You have to make decisions. It’s not possible to visit more than two most popular EU embassies (Great Britain and Belgium are first and second, with Italy a close third) if you want to actually enjoy the day. So we skipped Great Britain on the 2017 EU Openhouse day. We decided to visit all new place. Except the best EU embassy.
Belgium is the best EU Openhouse participant. Every year they have very long lines. This year was no different. The free beer, free chocolate, $1 water (the beer is free, the water is not) and Smurfs (fun fact, the Smurfs are a Belgium creation) make for an inviting atmosphere. They know they’re great. It’s why they wanted us to tell the UK that the EU rules. Like, girls rule, boys drool. They wanted us to tell the UK that. We said OK. So this piece is also serving the purpose of letting the UK know they drool.
We spent the other six hours visiting seven other embassies. Every embassy, regardless of size or entertainment, is worth seeing. Some are catering to locals. Others want to make it feel like home to ex-pats. There’s a reason for every attraction and table.
Our new highlight was the Netherlands. It’s near the Van Ness stop. I’m never near the Van Ness stop. Of our eight visits, their presentation made me want to visit the country the most. In addition to really good cheese, the embassy had the kindest staff and most comfortable atmosphere.
Near the Netherlands is the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia. These embassies catered more to the expats than the potential American visitor. The Czech Republic featured hometown sounds.
Austria showcased their classic past with Red Bull remixes. They had a DJ spinning classical music and gave away Red Bull. They are very proud of their Red Bull.
Slovakia was smaller but if you wanted Slovakian food and wine, you couldn’t do any better. The painted eggs were great but far too fragile for anyone traveling on bikes.
After visiting the most popular embassy and the friendliest embassy, we biked to the most out of the way stop, the shared Germany and France open house. The massive space is in the Foxhall Village neighborhood. Have you ever been to the Foxhall Village neighborhood? I hadn’t before Saturday.
The Germany and France open house was worth the ride for the grounds. It’s likely that I wouldn’t have ever visited the space without the open house day.
We ended the day near the major clump of embassies near the Sheridan Circle. Ireland had long lines because it always has long lines so we opted for Romania. The main feature of the Romanian Embassy was the 4615 Theatre Company. They performed short scenes by Romanian playwrights on the second floor in a room that was well lit and open, a horrible combination for theatre. But they performed as well as anyone could hope in such unwelcoming conditions.
The Romanian Embassy open house was a good example of trying to please both locals, tourists and expats. Locals can enjoy upcoming 4615 Theatre Company productions, tourists get to see the inside of an embassy and expats get to see some familiar scenes.
After Romania, we walked by Lithunia, one of the only embassies participating in an outdoor only atmosphere.
Cyprus deserves a better location. Only a block from the main strip, their space looks barren. They’re next door to a closed Embassy of Armenian and an abandoned building with a stop work order on its front door. Just look at their space on Street View.
We ended the day around the corner from Cyrpus, sampling Bulgarian wine in the Bulgarian Embassy. Bulgarian wine is not bad. That was maybe the biggest surprise of the day.