Day 4 (June 16, 2019 – Oslo, Norway): “Self-Catering Afterthoughts”
It was 4:30am when I awoke. But unlike the prior days on this trip, our little girl didn’t wake up until 5:15am. Clearly, she was getting accustomed to the European daily rhythms at this point and the effects of jetlag were wearing off.
Upon waking up, Tahia wished me a happy father’s day. How sweet!
The morning was another hectic time where we were all busy getting packed while at the same time, we were washing fruits, washing dishes, and Julie was cooking.
During the course of her making chicken, the smoke alarm went off.
That was when we realized that the windows were closed and that there was no vent for the kitchen in this studio. Clearly, along with the lack of kitchen tools like strainers, spatulas, etc., having the apartment feature at the Hotel Vanilla was an afterthought.
I wondered after this little bit of drama that we’re the reason they’d reconsider or do away with having the self-catered option at the Hotel Vanilla.
Indeed, while all this was going on, a firefighter knocked on the door. When he came in, he saw what was going on then spoke into his CB radio in Swedish something about “lager mat” (making food).
He was good humored about it though he also mentioned how the smoke alarm we had set off could only be shut off by someone else. It wasn’t like the ones we were used to that were more autonomous. After all, all the effort fanning out the smoke and opening the windows was futile as this alarm wouldn’t shut off the alarm by itself.
So anyways, by about 7:50am, the car was all loaded up and we were almost ready to go except Julie managed to get herself stuck in the garage as the keycard didn’t work to get herself back into the lobby from the garage.
We eventually figured out how to open the gate for pedestrians but it was hard to close it so when reception tried to open the gate remotely so we could drive out, it wouldn’t open.
Finally, a lady from the reception came out and did the deed (of closing the gate fully) then the larger gate was able to open. And thus we were finally leaving by 8am.
It was drizzling on and off this morning, which was nothing new.
But as we were driving towards Ramhultafallet, it seemed like the GPS wanted us to go a different route. Instead, I pursued a route that I had read about and stuck with that (trying to ignore the smaller roads that the GPS had wanted us to take).
Thus, we forced our way south on the E6 before taking the exit 58. Then, we followed some rural farm roads (paved and pretty empty) as we ultimately found our way onto a road between Fjaras and Satila.
Only after ignoring one GPS instruction on taking us onto an unsigned unpaved road, we then found the signposted turnoff for the Ramhultafallet, which the first indication of any sort of the waterfall that we saw on this drive.
There was also a 300m path to the top of the falls, but we knew that we were not going to pursue that path given the time constraints (this excursion was intended to be a very early hike while Julie and Tahia would have been allowed to sleep in but the Hotel Vanilla wouldn’t let us drive out of the garage until reception opened at 8am resulting in this delay).
The waterfall itself was a multi-tiered waterfall one with an attractive uppermost drop mostly hidden from our point of view at the middle drop.
Looking further downstream, there looked to be more drops before the falls spilled into the adjacent lake.
The falls appeared to have seen better flow in the past (i.e. it would have better flow earlier in the Spring) but it still had decent flow for our experience.
As we explored more of the area, we saw that there was a set of stairs getting us closer to one of the lower tiers closer to the lake.
So that ended her visit as she felt more inclined to return to the car, get changed, and get cleaned up. Good thing she didn’t injure herself on this fall.
After having our fill of this part of the falls, Tahia headed back to the car to rejoin Julie. However, she pointed out to me that there was another set of steps leading down even further to the lake.
Upon exploring that, I saw that there was a tiny dock where I could see the last tier of Ramhultafallet going right into the lake. I could also see in the opposite direction towards other boating infrastructure.
With such an idyllic setting, this waterfall did indeed remind me of the experience we had at the Grande Cascade de Tendon in northeastern France. Indeed, I was apt to give this waterfall at least a 2.5 despite the lower flow.
Anyways, by 9:45am, I rejoined Julie and Tahia. I saw Julie holding a very dirty hand towel, which she used to wipe off as much mud as she could from her pants, her small backpack, and even her Keens.
This time, as we drove off, I followed the GPS east towards the 156 via Satila and Harkila.
Eventually, I got onto the busier route 156 with a line of cars hesitant to overspeed the rural road as there were lots of speed cameras along the route.
Once we got onto the Hwy 40, we headed west back towards Goteborg as the drizzle became stronger and more persistent.
Then, we finally drove north on the E6 towards Oslo as we were in for a very long drive.
It wouldn’t be until about 12:25pm when we finally made it to the well-signed car park for Elgafossen. We got off the E6 for the 163, then we followed the 163 before heading north right for the Norwegian border along route 165.
And luckily for us, the weather appeared to have calmed down right when we showed up as most of the drive to get up here involved a good deal of persistent drizzle.
Anyways, we could see the Elgafossen with a tinge of brown in its impressive 46m drop, and it was easily the best waterfall we had seen on the trip so far.
I guess that’s really saying something that the first Norwegian waterfall we saw on this trip also happened to surpass all the Swedish waterfalls seen so far. At least Sweden can claim part of this waterfall as the Elga watercourse just so happened to define the border between Norway and Sweden.
In fact, I had read a sign here that said a Norwegian girl married her Swedish love on the Elja, which was symbolic of the borderless identity and union of Sweden of Norway in this area (especially given the past conflicts between the countries).
Regardless, we walked across the bridge over the tannin-laced stream and then followed a short path leading to some ruins as well as a trail that provided a frontal view of Elgafossen from a bridge as well as a trail that led up alongside the steep falls where we saw people standing at the brink of the falls at the top.
When I got up there myself, I could see that there was a bridge spanning the Elja with both the Norwegian and Swedish flag symbols on that bridge.
The views of the top of the falls from both sides were commanding. Julie and Tahia stayed behind at the bottom and Tahia was busy giving me the “Loser” sign while I was up at the top.
After having my fill of this spot, I then went back down where I captured more of the front of the falls from the bridge as well as some of the scrambling spots slightly uphill.
The floodlighting lights looked to be a bit of an eye-sore and we weren’t sure why they were there. But regardless, perhaps someone was using the Elja to provide a bit of small scale hydroelectricity for their needs.
By about 1:35pm, we returned to the car. From here on out, we were crossing into Norway to spend the better part of five weeks touring the entirety of the country.
With their reputation for being very expensive, I’m sure when we leave Norway for Denmark then return to Sweden, that it might feel like a bit of a respite (even if Scandinavia in general tends to be expensive).
Regardless, the main part of the trip was coming up, and I hope to slay the demons that have haunted me all those years after our past mistakes made on our first trip to Norway back in 2005…
This writeup continues on the write-up “Writing Wrongs”, which covers our journey in Southern Norway…
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