corilannam: (Default)
I had a nice weekend. I sincerely wish I were still having it.

This week is Passport to DC, an annual showcase of all the international embassies and cultural activities we have here in DC. I've never gone, though it's very much my kind of thing and is as close as I'm likely to get to international travel for the foreseeable future.

Saturday was the EU embassies open house, and I wheedled indulgent friends into coming along to tromp up and down Embassy Row to see what Europe had on offer.

We tried to start with the Greek embassy, but there was a line around the block to get it. Across the street, the Irish had a step dancing troupe stationed outside to entertain their own line. After a few minutes, we decided to give up and head upstream, as we'd gotten a late start and I really wanted to get one of the cool Union Jack tote bags that the British Embassy was giving out.

We ended up at the top of the row, in line to get into the Belgian embassy. The Belgians, unlike the Greeks, were very well organized and got their line moving at a good clip. The inside of the embassy was pretty neat, with a huge tapestry adorning the stairwell. A few of the offices had been left open for us to view, and we wondered who had drawn the short straws on having to clean off their desks. There was a photography exhibit, some very attractive reading material all about how nice Belgium is, and Belgium: The Movie.

Okay, whatever. YES, there were waffles! Actually, the smart, smart Belgians fed us very well -- as we shuffled through the embassy we collected chocolate, cookies, peach and pear juice, Belgian beer, and as our reward for making it out, a sugar or chocolate waffle.

I signed up for Belgium: The Mailing List on my way out, and the cute Belgian girl manning the table was utterly gobsmacked by the number of people visiting and wanted to know if it was the same at the other embassies. I told her the other embassies also looked pretty busy, but that might just be until word got out about the chocolate, beer, and waffles.

Then we walked down the street and ended up in line for the Embassy of Finland, which bills itself as the friendliest embassy in town. Sure enough, we had only been in line for a few moments when a friendly Finnish girl came by to give us a booklet about Finland.

It was a nice booklet, but the best part was when I turned it over and saw what is apparently Finland's new tourism slogan: "Calm and consensual by nature."

Well, you can guess that killed quite a few minutes of line-standing time for us.

I was quite looking forward to my "calm and consensual" natural experience inside the Finnish embassy, but we were running very short on time and still had to hit the UK. So we abandoned Finland (though I was disappointed not to get to go inside, since it's touting itself as the first fully green embassy) and headed down the street to the vast grounds of the British Embassy.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed with the UK. Part of it was due to us getting there late in the day, meaning that it was still crowded, but most of the good swag was gone (the last Union Jack bag went to the people right in front of us in line). All that was left was the Scottish stuff, though that was pretty cool, too. We didn't actually get to go inside any of the embassy buildings -- we walked through the gardens, but got shuffled along the path too fast to enjoy much of it. Though my zyrtec held up to the blooming rose garden, which was an impressive feat!

The rest was basically a little fair of corporate sponsors, mostly uninteresting. Though if anyone is in need of a little rubber British Airways plane, I can hook you up.

Then we had a late lunch in Dupont Circle before returning to suburbia to see Thor. THOR! Now there's a diplomat for ya.

Next weekend is the grand tour of all the non-EU embassies, which should actually be the more interesting event, though a harder sell to get people to come along. I'm hoping I can motivate myself to try it again.

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Cori Lannam

September 2013

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