This Saturday marks the annual Shortcut to Europe: European Union Embassies’ Open House coordinated by Cultural Tourism DC.
Like last week’s Around The World Embassy tours, it’s one of those great DC-only events that can give you an opportunity to discover the culture, food, and style of over two dozen countries in a single day.
Here’s our guide to help you make the most of this always-popular event.
Plan ahead. Shuttle services begin at 9:30 am and the open houses run from 10 am to 4 pm. We recommend starting early as the lines get progressively longer during the day.
You’ll want to take a look at the map and determine which area houses the embassies of most interest to you. Many of the embassies are located along Massachusetts Ave NW north of Dupont Circle (Embassy Row), so you’ll probably want to focus there if your goal is to visit as many embassies as possible. There’s also a number of embassies in Van Ness, Columbia Heights, Foggy Bottom, and Georgetown, which can be very convenient depending on where you live in the area and how you’ll be getting there.
Don’t drive. Parking is difficult around many embassy locations.We suggest taking Capital Bikeshare, metro, or a taxi when walking or the shuttle service is not a feasible option. (District Style note: As of this writing, WMATA has not issued any weekend track maintenance alerts, but you may wish to click here to see if that has changed.)
Get comfortable. Most embassies will require you to go through security, so you should make sure you have a piece of ID with you. You should also avoid bringing backpacks and any other large items. You’ll be standing in line a lot, so the less you have on you, the more comfortable you’ll be.
Many of the embassies will hand out bags when you visit them, so you’ll be able to easily carry any of the promotional materials they hand out.
Expand your palette. In addition to showcasing their culture, arts, and commerce, several embassies offer samples of their cuisine to event participants, usually for free or for a small fee. Larger authentic meals are also sometimes available for purchase, so it’s good to have cash on hand.
Below is our guide to some of the food that will be offer. Items may be subject to change and may be available for purchase (and not sampling) only.
Embassy of Austria: Will offer a wine-tasting seminar. A chef will give a demonstration on making apple strudel.
Embassy of Belgium: Will offer Belgian waffles, chocolate, and beer.
Embassy of Bulgaria: Will offer samples of traditional Bulgarian wine and yogurt.
Embassy of Croatia: Will offer wine.
Embassy of Cyprus: Will offer traditional Cypriot Halloumi cheese and soudjouko (made of grape juice and almonds).
Embassy of the Czech Republic: Will offer samples of popular Czech beer.
Embassy of Finland: Will offer samples of Finnish specialities.
Embassy of Greece: will offer mezedes (Greek small dishes). In previous years, samples of olive oil, yogurt, and Nescafé were served.
Embassy of Hungary: will offer samples of Hungarian food.
Embassy of Ireland: will offer samples of Irish food. In previous years, samples of Irish butter and cheese were served.
Embassy of Italy: will offer Italian food (for purchase).
Embassy of the Netherlands: will offer samples of Dutch food.
Embassy of Poland: will offer samples of traditional Polish cuisine.
Embassy of Spain: will offer Spanish tapas and wine.
Embassy of the United Kingdom: will offer samples of British food.
If you’ve been to the EU Open Houses before, share your tips and favorite stops in the comments below!