Almost ten years and a score ago, my family made landfall in Sweden and settled down in Hudiksvall. While dad worked at a concrete factory my mom was busy gestating what would become Tomasz. We stayed in Hudiksvall for two years and a week ago I briefly revisited the place.
Anna and Jan arranged for Markus Anteskog to show his work Virtual Waters with Skup Palet, and the cheapest way of getting the 1m×1m×1m works to Gothenburg was to rent a lorry and drive 1600 kilometers, returning with both art and artist properly secured.
With a merry “Right ho,” me and Petter set out in a giant Renault early Monday morning. Not five minutes had passed before I was frantically ringing the rental establishment for instructions on how to operate the non-cooperative sound system. They weren’t able to offer any help in the matter, so we turned to the Internet. Using a combination cellphones, wireless broadband and laptops, I soon had a question up on Metafilter and after a couple stops I had wrangled the player into submission. The car rattled too much for my spoken word podcasts to be audible, but Petters supply of rock music tided us over.
After an uneventful journey we met with Markus in Hudiksvall, lifted the God-awfully heavy boxes onto the lorry, and left looking for our hotel. Anna, in a gesture of motherly affection, had found a place north of Hudiksvall which judging from the pictures looked like a manor. Its webpage boasted of a fitness center, sauna and beautiful surroundings. We were to have luxuriant Italian toiletries and designer towels.
Imagine my shock upon discovering that the internets are not always faithful to the truth! The house was big-ish, but a glorified bed-and-breakfast rather than a grand guesthouse; A hard toffee was the only concession to luxury afforded us. The wifi was excellent, but I would gladly have settled for a slower connection in exchange for something more extravagante than Italian soap (no shampoo) and a backed–up shower drain. The towels might have been designed, but as one who has occasionally employed dirty shirts in lieu of traditional devices of absorption, my taste can hardly be called discriminating.
Anna, who had felt that she needed to compensate for the previously mentioned “motherly affection,” had unbeknownst to us called ahead and asked the proprietors to spare no efforts in making our stay as romantic as possible, since I and Petter had been eyeing each other for months and this would be the first time we’d be able to express the gay. Apparently, homosexuality hasn’t been invented in Bergsjö (population 1 243) which would explain the resulting tiptoeing. Also, the mirth expressed at the request of an additional duvet to the king-sized bed was better understood in light of Annas preplanning.
We had dinner at the one pizzeria which was licensed to sell beer, and trudged home. We’d been shown neither sauna nor fitness centre, and soon we fell asleep, with nary a fondle or caress. Breakfast was a toast–and–yoghurt affair, and pretty soon we were off in the truck again. The stereo had regressed to it’s previous state of being a broken piece of crap, and no amount of poking would convince it to work. I tried to entertain with the speaker of my cellphone, but Jay-Z just doesn’t carry the necessary oomph at such meagre volumes. We picked up Markus in Hudiksvall and off we went.
The highlight of the trip was having lunch at Dragon Gate, some twenty kilometres outside of Gävle. It’s an eight story Chinese pagoda with a surrounding wall, where you can eat lunch, get a massage or watch the largest collection of replica terracotta soldiers outside of China. We had spotted the place on our way up, and it was immensely gratifying to stop for a stir-fry, which we enjoyed in a dragon-shaped boat. Petter has already vowed to arrange any future wedding there, and I will most certainly recommend it to anyone going in that direction. The place is other-worldly; A mix of post-apocalyptic Chinese fortification combined with the concept of clave in Diamond Age.
With bellies full of tofu and rice, we continued the uneventful journey home. Long after dusk, with a lingering taste or french fries and coffee we’d picked up, and with lower backs bruised by unforgiving seats, we arrived in Gothenburg. Our precious content was delivered — art and artist in one piece, the latter only slightly worse for the wear — and we went our separate ways, sleeping the sleep of the well deserving. The show opened just the other day, and will be open until 28th March. Check out Skup Palet for more details on hours and so forth.