A town called...
Choosing a worthy travel destination is often the first and most important part of any holiday preparation. While many people rank things like climate, culture, amenities, and nightlife high on their list, some will come across a place name and think, “I just have to go there!”
And if that place is liable to raise an eyebrow or elicit a smirk, then so much the better! In fact, there are so many places with unusual, amusing or even indecent names that it would be impossible for us to mention them all.
The Flexicover Team takes a look at some interesting places to add to your travel itinerary, particularly if you’d like to capture a 'selfie' next to an interesting sign!
Hell is not just other people, it’s also a small village in central Norway about 42km east of Trondheim (45 minutes by public transport). The village’s name doesn’t stem from the mythological place of eternal torment but from the Old Norse word hellir, meaning "overhang" or "cliff cave". In September there’s an annual blues festival imaginatively titled “Blues in Hell” but, unfortunately, there's very little else to see in Hell itself. The landscape around it is very pretty, good for hiking, and it's fun to get a picture outside the Gods Expedition freight forwarding office (based on the archaic spelling of the word for "cargo handling" – godsekspedisjon). Another major photo opportunity is that of the Hell sign in winter. And, contrary to popular belief, visitors find that Hell's actually frozen over for a third of the year!
Worms (pronounced "vorms") is one of the oldest cities in Germany and sits on the River Rhine. Originally, the city was called Borbetomagus (Celtic word meaning ‘village in water-rich region’); this was changed to Wormatia by the Romans, then shortened to Worms. Historically, the city is famous for the 1521 Diet of Worms. The Imperial Diet (pronounced "dee-it"; an assembly of the ruling classes in the Holy Roman Empire) called on Martin Luther to respond to charges of heresy. He refused to retract his views, supposedly uttering, "Here I stand, I can do no other", resulting in Holy Roman Emperor Charles V branding him an outlaw. This key event in the Protestant Reformation is commemorated by the Luther Monument (Lutherdenkmal), erected in the city in 1868 and featuring the most important figures of the Reformation.
Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Canada
The small agricultural community of Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Quebec, has one of the most bizarre names we’ve come across. The exact origins behind the whimsical-sounding name are constantly debated but one school of thought is that the suffix Ha! Ha! is derived from the 17th century French term ha-ha, meaning an unexpected obstacle. In this case the ha-ha would be nearby Lake Témiscouata, which would’ve been a deep and formidable obstacle – although today you’re less likely to be intimidated and more likely to be enjoying activities such as canoeing, fishing and hiking. Plus, it’s the only town in the world with two exclamation marks in its name!!
Llanfair PG, Wales
This town on the island of Anglesey is also commonly referred to as Llanfairpwll to spare us the trouble of pronouncing it in its long form. The full name,
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is 58 letters in length, the longest place name in the United Kingdom. The name translates as "the church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio's of the red cave". It has also claimed the titles of the longest railway station name in the UK and longest single word internet domain name in the world! Following the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, an Anglesey version of the classic board game Monopoly was made, with the full name of the station occupying the square where King’s Cross Station is in the traditional version. Don’t take too long trying to pronounce this name in full, though, you might miss your train!
Taumata, New Zealand
Located near scenic Porangahau in Hawke’s Bay on New Zealand’s North Island is a relatively small hill (305m/1001ft high) that has gained a large measure of fame by having one of the world's longest place names. While it’s regularly shortened to Taumata for ease of conversation, in full its Maori name is
ahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu. The rough English translation reads like a short story as "the summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one”. Whilst it’s recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the longest place name in an English-speaking country, the world record actually goes to the Thai name for Bangkok which has a mammoth 155 characters!
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