Only in LA road trip

Summer's here. Time for another Only in LA road trip, this time in search of the world's strangest town names — strangest, at least, to English-speaking folks.

Yes, there is a Barf, England

3barf.jpgIt is the proud home of the Barf Bed and Breakfast Inn, which was cited in the category of "least appealing hotel names" in the book "Celebrating the Worst of Travel."'

Even today there are different meanings. Barf translates as "snow" in Farsi, which explains one product from an Iranian company.

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As you might have guessed "barf" meant something else in the Middle Ages: low hill. As for the Barf Inn, "the B&B&B concept has obviously paid off," an Australian visitor wrote recently. "The hotel is full."


Heading over to the continent...

orgy.jpgWe find a place that appears to outlaw group sex. Actually the slash mark means you are exiting the French town of Orgy, hopefully with your good name intact.

Orgy, from the ancient Greek, referred to secret ceremonies involving drinking, dancing singing and the eating of animal sacrifices and, perhaps, some sex.

"Kinda sounds like what I've heard about the 60s from my parents," one web reader wrote.

Many foreign towns seem to ignore the fact that their names — whose origins are often geographical or family-related — have surprise double meanings for Yanks.

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Those would include the Portuguese town of Chaos and the Italian town of Angri, which has some modern history — Capone family roots.

Officials of another French town did however try to take advantage of a name coincidence. The town mayor of the Pyrenees town of Condom opened a contraceptives museum in 1995. It closed in 2005.

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Condom in merry olde France referred to the confluence of two rivers.The French word for contraceptive is actually preservatif. At least one travel ad still shows four warriors who have whipped out their swords.


Germany, meanwhile, has a couple of towns whose names are not very sexy

nurot.jpghellenbach.jpg

Again, the names have mundane translations: Rottenegg refers to a red rock formation, and Hellenbach also appears to be geographical in origin.

Closer to the U.S.

A Quebec town sounds like the headquarters for a clown academy.

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It turns out that St. Louis du Ha! Ha! refers to an ancient French word for an unexpected obstacle or abruptly-ending path. It is said to be the only town in the world with two exclamation marks in its name.

Returning to U.S. soil...

We find a Pennsylvania town — in the Amish country yet — that could be a sister city of Orgy.

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Nothing so risque. The town became Intercourse in 1754, possibly because it was where two highways intersected, the town's website says. Another theory is that the word meant good fellowship.

Of course some locals couldn't resist creating a less solemn postcard.

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Not bad. I give it one "ha!"


Steve Harvey can be reached at steveharvey9@gmail.com. His Twitter address is @sharvey9.


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