Unfortunately you’ve already missed Hell freezing over, but the tabloids caught it. Don’t worry though, there is still the chance to take a detour to Fucking in Austria and I guarantee that someone is planning to take their partner to Climax in Michigan for Valentines Day – one of you will be disappointed, because it is seriously small.

hell freezes over

I know it’s childish, but that’s probably why it’s so successful. Seriously, Google ‘Fucking in Austria.’ It’s the only search term that doesn’t show porn (nothing on the first 10 pages of results, now tell me the last time that happened when you put fucking in a search engine?). Instead you will see endless photos of people standing by the town sign either smiling or, yes you guessed it, pretending to fuck and all of these people went well out their way to visit Fucking for that very photo. Though maybe I’m being unfair. Out of curiosity, I looked up what you can actually do in Fucking, apart from taking a stupid photo. It took a while to find anything, because I had to trawl through lots of travel posts and news stories, but in the end I got a result. The hamlet has something like 100 residents, three restaurants and a dedicated Fucking bus service that brings tourists to the hamlet for the stupid photo.

The nearest village to Fucking, is a place called Winham. Again, out of curiosity, I Googled it. The first result I found was the ‘Hayfever forecast for Winham.’ A bit further down the list is a dating service. There is an obvious punchline here, but there is a more serious side to this. Winham have lost out on the tourist dollar to its smaller neighbour, Fucking. In fact, the silly name is supporting a whole English speaking tourism industry.

village in Wales

American servicemen in WW1 made the small hamlet of Fucking famous, but they were not the first to realise how a name could spawn a local tourism industry. Take Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – I’m not choking – which is a village in Wales. It was originally called Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll, which though still unpronounceable unless you’re Welsh is a hell of a lot shorter than it is now.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch was given its name as a publicity stunt by a media savvy local station master in 1860. He was looking for a way to put his little Welsh village on the map and decided that creating a 51 letter place name was a guaranteed recipe for success. It worked, but it is not the longest place name in the world. This prize goes to cough Taumata cough, which is a hill in New Zealand. It turns out that Taumata was an abbreviation and everyone should have been calling it Taumata­whakatangihanga­koauau­o­tamatea­ure­haea­turi­pukaka­piki­maunga­horo­nuku­pokai­whenua­ki­tana­tahu. I can’t help thinking that a certain Welsh station master emigrated to New Zealand at the turn of the 19th century and had a brainwave… Again, you will find plenty of tourists taking pictures next to this ridiculously long sign.

Taumata

You’ll be happy to hear that the practice of changing place names to promote the local tourism industry is alive and well to this day (though thankfully, no one has tried to top 91 letters), but the results are pretty hit and miss. Take ‘Truth or Consequences,’ a town that renamed itself after a talk show. If you want my two cents, they should have just called aimed for the lowest common denominator and called themselves ‘Tits.’I guarantee it would be much more popular.

Published by Nico

Originally from England, I'm slowly traveling the world on a whim. I love traveling, have an avid fear of heights and can normally be found googling location of the best coffee shop wherever I happen to be.

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