Cocktail confusion in Varberg

The last time we went to a hotel by ourselves was when I was extremely pregnant with Otto. We went to an island near Gothenburg with not terribly much to do but to go on long walks through the forest, which we did. Unfortunately, I had terrible pain in my sciatic nerve because Otto was upside down and kicking the crap out of it, so I limped around and had a generally difficult time. The air conditioner was very noisy and the air was dry, so we slept worse than we usually did, and we usually slept very badly indeed. Nevertheless, we were extremely grateful to Felix’s mum and her partner for the time away, and looked forward to doing it again one day when I had ejected my dissatisfied lodger.

Fast forward almost two years, and that day has come. This time, it’s my parents’ turn to watch the little bumpkins while we sojourn in Varberg for two nights. It’s a pretty little seaside town around 45 minutes from Gothenburg on the train and, so far, so good.

Realising we’d arrive around lunchtime, I spent the train ride checking out reviews of all the restaurants in town.

“The worst pizza I’ve ever eaten,” read one. Not there, then.

“By far, without a doubt, the worst food I’ve ever had at a restaurant,” read another. Not there either.

We settled on Prästgatan, a kind of Asian/Swedish fusion situated on… Prästgatan.

Whenever I manage to pick a really good place to eat after a bit of research, I wonder why I don’t do it more often.

we chose the raggmunk (a kind of delicious potato pancake) with cauliflower and lingonberries, and bao with hoisin-fried mushrooms. Both were exquisite. Highly recommended, 10/10.

Raggmunk where you can't see the raggmunk
Felix, about to eat

We wandered to the Hotell Havanna, where we are staying. We dropped off our bags and decided to take a stroll along the beachside promenade while we waited for our room to be ready. The plan was to find a spot along the water and have a nice drink, enjoying the view and anticipating the two days of solitude we were about to enjoy.

Nice seaside flowers
Closeup of nice seaside flowers

We did find a spot. We also found a drink. It just wasn’t nice.

Felix tossed up between a maybe not-so-exciting but hard-to-get-wrong Hendricks G&T and an intriguing-sounding thyme flavoured prosecco cocktail. He landed on the latter. I don’t even remember which two I was umming and ahhing over, but ended up choosing a third at the very last second, without reading all the ingredients, and immediately wondering what had come over me.

Perhaps I was being haunted by the spirit of bad spirits as I made my choice. Perhaps I am just erratic. Whatever the reason, I picked some kind of strawberry situation that looked like a bit of fun.

The thyme thing was weird and unpleasant, but only the second worst drink we’ve ever ordered. First prize went to my undrinkable syrup disaster, which I let the ice melt into, hoping the dilution would at least thin it down a little. When that didn’t work, I gave up on it as a consumable, but at least it was a nice shade of hot pink to look at for the hour we sat there, really not minding that much, despite the price.

“It’s weird,” I said to Felix, “that doesn’t even look like thyme. It looks more like oregano.”

“Wait a second,” said Felix to me, “I think it is oregano.”

We tasted a bit and, being quite convinced now that it was, in fact, oregano, Googled a little.

My strawberry abomination
Thyme or oregano?

Being 100% certain the plant in question was most definitely oregano, I plucked up the courage to take the drinks back to the bar.

A very angry (read: neutral, but then add my feelings of guilt and self-consciousness) staff member told me it definitely was thyme, and I told her it definitely wasn’t. She said it most certainly was thyme, and it even said so on the pot she got it from and I, as my fight or flight instinct set in, said that, as a matter of fact, I grew lots of both and that this was most certainly oregano and that, anyway, it was horrible tasting, but that I didn’t really mind and I just wanted her to know, which… I was panicking at this point.

“Would you like something else then?” she asked me, with disgust.

“Just a beer, please,” I said, extremely sheepish at this point.

She gave me one. It was the best beer I’ve ever had half of. We shared it while Googling more pictures of thyme and trying desperately to figure out if it actually definitely was oregano in the drink. I’m still quite sure it was, but it was a jarring encounter.

After the horrific cocktail event, we wandered back to the hotel and checked into our very cute little room in this wonderfully Cuban themed hotel. A lot of the references are lost on me, being awfully uneducated about the Caribbean for someone who used to be such a big fan of the no longer popular pirate film series set in the region.

But it’s lovely, and the spa is lovely and the massage I had just now was extremely lovely and the beers in the minibar were lovely and the dinner we’ll have at the hotel restaurant in an hour promises to be lovely too.

As an aside, I recently learned (through a meme of course!) that I am not alone in experiencing residual feelings of guilt and rebellion when eating or drinking anything from minibars after being told by parents when staying in hotels that everything in them is VERY EXPENSIVE. I still feel like they’re mostly there to tempt you, and that it is actually a crime to consume them. So we bought our own Pringles, which the resident seagulls are very interested in.

It feels nice to be writing about a trip again. Please let me know if the organic matter in Felix’s drink looks more like oregano than thyme to you.

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Lily Ray
Lily Ray

Journalist, photographer, traveller and knitter. Mother to a small but demanding infant, Lily's life is messy but generally lovely. She has a lot of thoughts. Here is where she puts them.

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