“The Great Liao” exhibition took up most of my time. After traveling to Assen and trying to find the Drents museum – that is. Before setting off, I had had a look at Google maps.
The journey took over three hours. In some intercity trains, modern versions of rail-catering are often present. Yet a visit to some watering hole would be necessary. Europe was experiencing a heatwave. Fortunately, the Drents Museum has a café.
A topped-up water-bottle helped during the first leg of the hike. However, on descending from the train, reality hit. I had arrived on the wrong side of what once was a tiny, regional station.
Now it was partly boarded up. It and a square in front of it were a building-pit under construction. Just as well we had a heatwave: there was no shelter against wind nor rain.
Stuck on the wrong side of everything, there was a choice. Either an Everest-hike up, then a horizontal footbridge, followed by a hike down, using a long and steep open staircase. Or boarding a rickety elevator up, followed by the footbridge, then another rickety elevator down.
Once on the other side: ticket office closed, information desk boarded up. So I went into the only shop open. Two girls set me right: Google maps had shown things upside-down, left-to-right incorrect. The girls told me to follow signs spelling “Centrum”.
Other towns are more savvy. Take Leeuwarden, where a station-square under construction was no hurdle. They paved the way to their museum by sticking exhibition images on the pavement. Hard to miss their then “Alma-Tadema” exhibition. Once familiar with the route, a visit to their wonderful “Chintz” exhibition was a diddle.
In Assen, “Centrum”-signs soon petered out. Apparently visitors and tourists are discouraged. Regardless, I bumbled on and met two lost tourists. They had spotted the museum. I was told to find a small alley called Museumlaantje. Turning left as directed and wandering on, I finally found the museum entrance.
The museum consists of a new wing and old building. The ticket and information desk is at ground level. The rest is accessed by going underground, using an elevator.
The stunning “Great Liao” can be found in the new museum wing. After admiring the exhibition, I browsed the museum shop. It is always interesting to see what others offer, when one not just blogs or writes about culture but works in museum promotion and sales, as a museum guide, organises cultural events.
Locating the museum café was the next challenge. Another elevator or staircase led to the older museum building and café. They sure adore stairs and elevators in Assen.
The rest of the museum would have to wait till another visit. Pity, for like the British Museum and it’s Lindow Man, the Drents Museum shows the Yde Girl, a bog-body, prehistoric artifacts, as well as works ranging from medieval to modern times.
However, the museum café is another exhibit worth a visit! It partly consists of the salvaged Art Nouveau and Art Deco interior of a former The Hague café. Regular visitors included Queen Wilhelmina and Louis Couperus. The Drents Museum Café bears its name: Café-Brasserie Krul.
Its menu listed some interesting dishes, related to “The Great Liao” exhibition. Though Mongolian “Buuz“, “Guriltai Shul”, “Selbeg Khavirga” and especially “Huushuur” sounded enticing, I opted for something Dutch.
The café also offers tea or coffee with traditional Drents Turfje: a regional fruity cake. Its name refers to peat or turf, once harvested in the province of Drenthe and responsible for the well-preserved Yde Girl.
It being a warm and sunny day, I opted for Café Krul’s quiet, shaded terrace. Kind staff told me a bit about the cafe’s history and encouraged me to take as many photos as I’d like. I could easily have spent the whole afternoon lolling contentedly on the shady terrace of this extremely pleasant watering hole, having the occasional drink, another slice of delicious Drents Turfje or perhaps the Huushuur after all.