How often are you able to set foot in five different countries in one day? That’s one reason why folks lined up for the European Union Embassy Tour 2022, which took place on May 14. When you enter an embassy you are technically on that country’s soil. That reality came home when we passed through metal detectors and bag checks at every entrance.
Doug and I had hoped to visit as many embassies as we did the previous week, but the lines were longer. On May 7 we visited a dozen non-European embassies! On May 14 we made it to five EU embassies.
We began with a visit to Luxembourg, which had an online quiz for folks waiting in line. The prize (if your score was high enough) was a reusable bag. The interior of this embassy was one of the most beautiful that we have seen. (photos below)
Greek Embassy and Sculptor George Petrides
Then we headed across the street to Greece, where we met the sculptor George Petrides amid his enormous “Hellenic Heads.” These are new works of art inspired by the past, and it’s interesting to read about both his research and technique. The sculptor was happy to pose. I chose to stand by the head titled “Female Leadership.” George suggested we gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes. Then he asked if I would like to model for him sometime. Nude optional. In the moment these well-rehearsed lines went over better than they sound now, recounted on paper.
Embassy of the Netherlands
Then Doug and I drove northwest to get to the Netherlands, which is adjacent to the Hillwood estate in a tony part of the city. In the Netherlands we ate and drank gluttonously! Cheese, French fries, and stroopwafels, all washed down with Heineken beer, all for free! The two types of cheese were labeled gouda cheese and cumin cheese. I said, “Leiden cheese!” and the workers were surprised and spoke to me in Dutch. I am out of my depths once I get past the ubiquitous polite word, alstublieft. But I do know that gouda cheese with toasted cumin seeds is made in Leiden — it’s my mother’s favorite.
We also took photos with an orange bicycle, and in front of photos of the king and queen. The lines for each delicacy were long, but I was flabbergasted to see a team making the stroopwafels by hand. They used a special waffle-press to make four at a time, then split each little waffle by hand and spread it with caramel. Not the packaged item from Trader Joes that I expected to receive! Waiting in line for this sort of artistry is not too painful.
The Czech Republic — and an Art Installation to support Ukraine
We walked down a long hill to the Czech Republic. The ambassador’s residence was open for tours, which seemed incredibly hospitable. What a gorgeous home, complete with pool. On the hill between the embassy and the ambassador’s residence a large art installation was being constructed to show unity with Ukraine. Garments in blue and yellow were being draped over a large frame built in the shape of a house. See the photo below.
We also took in a demonstration of cultural dance, a wine tasting, and a demonstration by the K9 unit of the Rockville City Police (which has a partnership with Czech to obtain its German Shepherds). We bought pastries and sausages, using literally our last dollar. (Note to self: next year bring more cash as not everyone accepts plastic.)
A bit further down the hill we cruised into the Embassy of Hungary, which had a party atmosphere, with music playing and lots of food for sale. We didn’t linger. We hoped to make it back to Dupont Circle in time for a last stop in Ireland. But we arrived just minutes too late. We did get to watch some young Irish dancers, dressed in green.
If you visited any embassies this year, I’d love to hear where you visited, and what you saw! Leave a comment.