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This weekend, I took advantage of one of the perks of living in Washington, DC:

Embassy Day!

Embassy Day!

The Around the World Embassy tour is organized by Cultural Tourism DC and is wildly popular.  This year embassies and ambassadors’ residences representing 53 nations participated!  In one afternoon you can visit all of the continents of the world.  Entrance to the buildings is free and every country takes advantage of the opportunity to showcase their very best in food, dancing, artwork and crafts, costumes, commerce, tourism…anything you can think of.  As a lover of languages and a dedicated armchair traveler (as well as an obsessive hoarder of travel brochures), this is one day I make the most of!

First I waited in line for the chance to finally (sort of) visit Australia.

Australia emblemsAustralia interior

The embassy volunteers kept the people in line happy by handing out samples of Vegemite and beef sausage, as well as free sunscreen.  Once inside I sampled Australian wine, nibbled on lamb, and said hello to some skinks and geckos on display.  (I also unashamedly made off with a temporary tattoo of the Australian flag.)

Next I headed to the Philippines, where I watched people getting dressed up for some dancing and checked out the display of elaborately carved fruit and vegetables.

Philippines interiorPhilippines carving

Then there was Peru, where the sounds of panflute wafted through the windows as I watched a weaver at his loom.

Peru girlsPeruvian weaving

I headed into the embassy of Mozambique to look at some traditional artwork

Mozambique interiorMozambique hallway

and then headed up to the embassy of the Republic of South Africa, where I sampled some remarkably spicy food and took too many pictures of the Nelson Mandela statue.

South Africa entranceSouth Africa Mandela

Bolivia had a nonstop dance party going on out front

Bolivia exteriorBolivia costumes

as well as an entire hall dedicated to quinoa.

14 - Bolivia quinoa hall

I ended my day at the residence of the ambassador to Brazil.

Brazil residenceBrazil interior

I had wanted to go into the embassy of the Republic of Iraq, but so did everyone else it seems – the line was around the block!

Iraq exterior

Maybe next year…


In one day I visited seven different countries!  By my calculation, the countries I visited represent over 800 living languages.  Isn’t that amazing?

(By the way, if you’re in the DC area and you missed this weekend’s embassy tours, next weekend the European embassies will be participating in the EU Openhouse tour, also organized by Cultural Tourism DC.)

Copyright Allison Taylor-Adams.  See About for details.