By Jason Heidemann for the Orbitz Travel Blog
Ever been to Land of the Pale Faces, USA? Or how about White Man in a Hole, Australia? There are some strangely named towns and cities on this planet and we'd like to visit every one of them. After all, who wouldn't want to brag that they just came back from Rat's Mouth, Florida? Here are 11 of our favorite oddly named cities, in no particular order, and a few notes on what your town's name actually means.
1. Ala-Lemu, Finland
This Fin-tastic name already sounds a little goofy to English speakers, but the literal Finnish translation for this coastal town means "lower stink" or "stink from the bottom." We'll let you paint a mental picture.
Boca" is Spanish for mouth while "raton" means mouse or rat so "rat's mouth" is the literal translation, although origin stories suggest the town's name was once Boca de Ratones, which means thieves inlet. Um, we're sticking with rat's mouth.
A prettier name we couldn't imagine. But
is also Brazilian Portuguese slang for um, how should we put this delicately? A certain sexual act. We'll give you a minute with an online translator to figure it out. By the way, Boquete was named a hotspot for retirees by the AARP--but we're hoping it was for different reasons.
4. Chicago, IL
Like the Great
Fire, there is some dispute surrounding the origin of the name of America's third largest city. According to Wikipedia, the word "Chicago" is a French translation of the Miami-Illinois word "shikaakwa" which means stinky onion. We've also heard
the city was named after a Native American chieftain named Chicagou. Perhaps the city deserves a new name. What's the Native-American word for "place of Blackhawks champs and deep dish pizza?"
5. Coober Pedy, Australia
You could spend a lifetime having a good chuckle at some of the names our friends from Down Under have come up with for their towns and cities--their true origins are another story altogether. Coober Pedy in South Australia, for example, is the nation's opal capital. Its name is aboriginal and means "white man in a hole." We'll just leave it at that.
This harbor town is also the capital city of Nova Scotia, an oft-frigid Canadian province, which tempts us to think the word Halifax means "place we'd never visit in January." In reality, it means "remote corner where rough grass grows." Sniff, our allergies are flaring up already.
We love the Hawkeye State! Completely undeserving of its reputation as one endless cornfield, Iowa is a state of rolling hills, vibrant college towns and lovely (white) people. Its origin name is commonly thought to mean "the beautiful land," but according to the
, Iowa actually means "Land of the Pale Faces." We think both names are pretty fitting.
8. Los Banos, CA
This Central Valley city means "the baths" in Spanish, and was named for
a natural water spring that fed wetlands in the San Joaquín Valley where the town is located. However, baño also means toilet in Spanish and that's what most Californians derisively assume it to mean.
9. Punkeydoodles Corners, Canada
This town in the Canadian province of Ontario is known primarily for frequent sign theft (no surprise there) and its hilarious name. Its origin is unclear, but some attribute it to a local innkeeper who enjoyed singing "Yankee Doodle." Others link it to a Victorian word for wasting time while others attribute it to a pumpkin farmer.
10. Punta Gorda, FL
Everything weird happens in
, which is why the Sunshine State has notched two entries on this list. From Spanish, Punta Gorda translates to "fat tip," likely referring to the fact that this Gulf Coast town lies near a big, jutting peninsula. However, dirty minds have conjured alternate interpretations that refer to--you guessed it--the male anatomy.
11. Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha!, Canada
The only town in the world with two exclamation points in its name, we can only imagine the excitement its residents must feign every time they say the name aloud. The Ha Ha part actually refers to an archaic French word (the town is located in the French-Canadian province of Quebec) meaning an abruptly ending path. So that's not "Ha!-Ha!" as in, "Lulz, you just hit a dead end"?