"Shortcut to Europe" Brings an Entire Continent to Washington, D.C.

10 May
May 10, 2012

Every now and then, many of us have had the urge to jet off to Europe at the drop of the hat. Of course, with plane tickets, hotel planning and finding someone to watch the dog or the kids, the reality is that forgetting everything and flying over to the Old World without months of preparation is an unrealistic impossibility.

Yet this weekend, the European embassies of Washington, D.C. are offering something almost as good, with “Shortcut to Europe”. On Saturday, May 12th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., nearly every single European embassy in the city is opening its doors and offering everyone the chance to experience their favorite European delights.

This one day extravaganza covers a range of cultures, arts and cuisines. Visitors to the embassies will get to enjoy a breadth of experiences, from seeing ancient Dutch art to sipping on steins of German beer to tasting traditional Hungarian goulash.

The participating embassies are spread all throughout Washington D.C., so it’s best to break up the places to visit by neighborhood. In fact, Shortcut to Europe’s done the work for you, breaking down the embassies into four areas. And in each these neighborhood groups, Shortcut to Europe will provide bus service to get you around. And the best part of it all, is that admission to every single embassy is free.

The Dupont Circle-Massachusetts Avenue corridor is the most densely populated of all of the area tours, with many European countries owning a slot on prestigious Embassy Row. A trip can begin just west of the circle at the red brick Embassy of Portugal. There, Portuguese red and white wines will be available to taste, and photographs will be on display from the country’s most famous photographers.

Just two blocks north, around Sheridan Circle, sit eight embassies, all open to visit. The Embassy of Ireland will be displaying sculptures and art from its famous Irish artists. The Embassy of Greece will have lectures on how the architecture of ancient Athens shaped the world, and provide samples of Greek cuisine. And the Latvian embassy will showcase the works of three of their most famous contemporary painters.

Further up Massachusetts Avenue are the Embassy of Italy and the Residence of the Ambassador of the Netherlands. The Italians will have a displays from some of their more famous and prestigious automobile designers, while the Netherlands will have some of the oldest displays of art of any of the embassies, with works ranging all the way back to the 1500s. The Massachusetts corridor tour ends at the Belgian Embassy, just north of the Naval Observatory, where the embassy will be pouring the beverage it’s most famous for, beer.

The Georgetown area tour has two embassies, but three countries, to visit, all from Western Europe. At the popular House of Sweden, on the water in Georgetown, the rooftop patio will be open, where traditional Swedish treats will be served in the open air. Up Reservoir Road, the German and French embassies will be sharing a party, which is sure to be one of the best of the whole day. The German Embassy is undergoing renovation, so the country is setting up an authentic beer garden in the French Embassy, while the French will be serving a bistro-style meal in their cafeteria. While you’re there, you can learn as well, as employees will be teaching German and French to anyone who wants to learn.

Up in the northernmost part of the city, the Van Ness area, the central European embassies all share a neighborhood. At the Embassy of Austria, Viennese coffee will be available to sip while a chef gives lessons on making Austria’s most famous foods, Apple Strudel. A bit down the street, and across the road from each other, are the Hungary and Czech Republic embassies. At those two you’ll be able to taste, sample and compare the national dish of each, which is the same, goulash, a beef stew.

This is just a few, though, of the 27 embassies that will be offering the chance to experience their homeland.  And you won’t even have to book a single flight.

- David

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