You’ve decided to get away from it all and seek out somewhere new, different and beyond the usual to hang out for a few hours or days.
There’s a unique charm of going off the beaten path: you unexpectedly find things along the way that are interesting and funny. These things include unusual and weird names. No matter how remote, underpopulated or unremarkable these places may be, their exit signs bearing their strange names at least garner some chuckles and selfie snaps from curious and amused tourists.
As the Latin phrase goes, nomen es omen, which means “the name is the sign.”
1)Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu (New Zealand)
Every tourist knows the struggle of fitting himself or herself to the local customs. It includes learning to eat the local cuisine and maybe (and the most challenging) learning to speak like a local.
But if you visit the North Island in New Zealand, there’s one word that no local would ever give you a hard time about pronouncing incorrectly. The funnier thing is that they have even shortened it.
Ready? Take a deep breath, and then try to pronounce this:
Yes, that’s the name!
It’s the name of a 1,000-foot hill near the township of Porangahau, south of Waipukurau, which is the largest town in Central Hawkes’ Bay on the east coast of North Island. The hill’s unusually long name is of Maori origin, which roughly translates in English as: “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the slider, climber of the mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his kōauau (flute) to his loved one.”
With 85 characters, it still holds the record of the longest place name in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
But if you finally give up trying to correctly pronounce the name, just call it “Taumata” for short.
2)Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (Wales, United Kingdom)
It is a village on the Isle of Anglesey, Wales, United Kingdom. With 58 characters split into 19 syllables, it is the longest place name in Europe and the world’s second-longest.
Being in second place of the longest one-word place names in the world doesn’t mean it’s no less challenging to pronounce to foreigners. To add, it’s in the Welsh language, whose pronunciation is entirely different from English. It roughly translates as “The church of Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the fierce whirlpool and the Church of Tysilio by the red cave.” It is alternatively called “Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll” or “Llanfair PG” for short.
The curiosity factor of the village’s name has significantly helped the local tourism. About 200,000 people visit Llanfair PG every year. Probably the most popular attraction is the railway station that features the plate, bearing the village’s full name.
3) Batman (Turkey)
Despite the name of this Turkish province and its city, don’t just even think of looking for Batman (or a secret entrance to his Bat Cave) there! There is a couple of possible origins of this name.
The word “batman” itself could have originated from the ancient unit of measurement (equal to 16.96 pounds). It could also be the shortened form of “Batı Raman”, the country’s largest oil field, located outside the city.
Batman was once a small village until the discovery of the oil fields during the 1950s propelled its rapid growth and eventual conversion into a city. The mayor once tried to sue the director of Batman Begins!
4) Hell (Norway)
If you tell your friends you’re going on a highway to Hell, you really mean it! But it can be literally cool Hell, somewhere in the Scandinavian region. The name of this small village in central Norway is originated from the Old Norse word hellir, which means “overhang” or “cliff cave.” In modern Norwegian, it means “luck.”
Maybe the name is quite auspicious for the village. As a result, it has become a minor tourist attraction, mostly foreign English-speaking tourists. During the winter season, temperatures in Hell can go as low as −25 °C (−13 °F). So Hell freezes over – and not just figuratively.
5) Anus (France)
Anus is a populated village in Burgundy, France. Reasons to go there? First and foremost, to tell the tale. And to enjoy the village’s idyllic beauty, which is a far cry from its obscene name (at least among English speakers). Other than that, there’s no other reason to go to the back end of Burgundy!
6) Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! (Canada)
Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is a parish municipality in Temiscouata Municipality Region in Quebec, Canada. While the name doesn’t make sense in English, it does so in French. Well, sort of. It can be traced back to an archaic French word, “haha,” which means an impasse or a dead end. The term can possibly refer to Lake Temiscouata, which suddenly came into view for the early French explorers. The village’s residents are proud to say that Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is the only name in the world with two exclamation points.
7) Boring (USA)
There are at least three places in the USA with the name Boring, all unincorporated communities in Maryland, Oregon and Tennessee.
Boring, in Oregon, was built on its namesake lava field. Both are named after William Harrison Boring, an American Union soldier and one of the community’s early residents. On the other hand, Boring in Tennessee might be probably named after the Boring family, who was one of the early residents there during the 1870s. Well, we hope that this piece of trivia doesn’t sound boring to you!
8) Eggs and Bacon Bay (Australia)
Sounds mouthwatering, doesn’t it? This community in Tasmania, Australia, gets its strange name after the yellow flowers with red streaks – the colors of the popular breakfast staple. These flowers, related to pea, are common in the area.
9) Why (USA)
You want to go to Why. Just why? It’s because there’s Why! This unincorporated rural community in Arizona derives its name from its two major highways – State Routes 85 and 86 – which form a “Y”-shape intersection. It used to be called “Y,” but at the time state law required all city and town names to have at least three letters, so the locals named it “Why” instead. Why, that’s pretty interesting!
10) The Office Girls (Antarctica)
There might be women working in Antarctica today!
“The Office Girls” is a term that refers to two glacial islands, called nunataks. They are located about seven miles (13 kilometers) southwest of Welcome Mountain of the Outback Nunataks, near the Southern Ocean Coast of Antarctica. There are several tiny pieces of land in Antarctica to map, that the US had an Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names to name them all. In 1970 they opted for “The Office Girls” as their gesture of appreciation to all the home-based personnel who provided administrative support to Antarctic programs.