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Recap: Shortcut to Europe

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The Brits know how to throw a party. I say this sheepishly, because I am British. But, I tell you, it was definitely proven yesterday afternoon when normally-sleepy Massachusetts Avenue came alive for the “Shortcut to Europe” event. All the European Embassies flung open their doors to visitors, and lines were wrapped around city blocks to get into some of them.

But the line for the U.K. Embassy stretched the longest. Why? Maybe it was the crazy band that was lighting up the atmosphere (not to mention luring people from blocks away). Maybe it was the great Scottish whiskey they were pouring freely. Maybe it was the books of award-winning short stories or the fab Union Jack bags they were giving out. Or maybe it was the fact that you could finally stroll around the stunning Ambassador’s Gardens that are usually hidden away behind those high embassy walls.

Photo credit: Becca Clara Love

Yes, the Brits won. We meandered around the gardens, whiskey in hand, lapping up the sunshine, for quite some time. The embassy open houses were part of DC’s month-long “Passport to DC” event, which also includes an international children’s festival (next weekend) and an Asian heritage festival (the weekend following). The theme is “Green Europe,” and each of the embassies showcased their commitment to clean energy and tackling climate change.

Photo credit: Becca Clara Love

The most unique display of this was at the Embassy of Estonia, which showcased a collection of clothes from designer Reet Aus. Handmade with recycled, organic, and natural fibers, Reet Aus’ collections take industrial waste and turn it into luxury. The clothes hung on two racks and visitors milled about them, touching the fabric and wondering why they were touching the fabric. I actually thought it was a refreshing take on the event’s theme, as most of the other embassies had more of a museum-like display of their eco-friendliness, complete with posters and pamphlets.

Photo credit: Reet Aus

The event was well run, and it was fortunately held on a beautiful day—not a cloud in the sky. There were bus stops and plenty of guides on every corner, armed with maps and answers to any of your questions. We couldn’t bear to board the busses (the lines were quite long, and it was just too gorgeous outside), so instead we strolled along from embassy to embassy up Mass Avenue.

Europe was beautiful, and I can’t wait to visit the other embassies when they open their doors. Or perhaps attend a party or two in one of those grand estates. Yes, I think that’s how I should see them next. At a party. Maybe the British embassy will be hosting one soon …

Photo credit: Becca Clara Love

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