Confusing place names?

On a recent trip to Vienna (which is in Austria), I bought a t-shirt that shows a yellow diamond traffic sign containing a kangaroo silhouette, and the words “NO KANGAROOS IN AUSTRIA.” I asked my hotel clerk if he’s ever encountered tourists who went to Austria but thought they were going to Australia. He said it happens frequently, especially with people who plan their trips online and misspell Australia. Many of them don’t even know that there’s a country called Austria, so they assume Vienna and its airport are located in Australia. So they fly to Vienna, take a taxi to the hotel, and ask the clerk where they can see kangaroos, and which way is the outback?

He also told me that most of these people wind up going back to the airport and catching a flight to Australia; they’re not at all interested in any of the wonderful things in Vienna.

So, have you ever been confused about two place names, even to the point of actually going to the wrong one?

(I know this conjurs up images of little singing wallabees scurrying through the outback, trying to escape the Nazis.)

I don’t think I have. I really can’t hink of any.

Sometimes I read things on this board that make my jaw just drop. This is one of them. People are so stoooooooopid!!!

There was a story in the news a year or so ago about a couple that ended up in Sydney, Canada by their mistake booking tickets online. There’s also a huge number of ‘duplicate’ placenames in the area I live in, and there was a case not long ago where somebody died in the wreck of a car while the ambulance was driving to another town with the same name.

A relative who lives in New Mexico frequently sends me stories about people who don’t understand that NM is one of the 50 states of the U.S.A. As in, “Oh, we can’t accept a driver’s license from a foreign country,” and the like.

For years, before I moved in the area, I’d thought Ontario CA meant Ontario Canada.

The state of Washington is located on the USA’s west coast.

The city of Washington is located on the USA’s east coast.

A friend of mine likes to tell the story of an international “goodwill” high school track meet held at her school near Seattle. A high school team from India made plans to fly “to Washington.” The day before the event, they phoned and said “We’ve landed in New York. Can you give us driving directions?”

This isn’t quite the same, but I still thought of it when I saw the thread title.

I’ve got a friend that lives in a city called Between, which is about 45 minutes or so outside of Atlanta, GA. When any of our old friends ask where she is living now, I have to answer “In Between Georgia.” I have yet to answer that question without getting, “What? In between Georgia and where?”

And while we’re on a Georgia theme, many years ago (pre-internet) I tried to book a flight from Cleveland, Ohio to Columbus, Georgia. The ticketing agent apparently misunderstood or jumped to the conclusion that I wanted to go to Columbus, Ohio and we had quite a few minutes of confusion, with me saying things like, “Well, what about Flight #123” and her saying, quite irritated, “There is no Flight #123” before the light finally dawned on both of us.

Then she told me the computers were down and I should call back later.


There’s a town in New Jersey called West New York. Imagine telling someone you live in West New York, New Jersey.

I have a friend who lives in Roselle, New Jersey which I always mix up with the town right next-door, Roselle Park.

The Republic of Georgia and the state of Georgia used to confuse me when I was little.

I have two.

  1. At my first Dopefest, in Knoxville, Tennessee, I was meeting with a couple of Dopers and when asked where I was from, I told them Cleveland. They then asked me if I had driven all the way from Ohio and I had to explain that I was from Cleveland, Tennessee, a smallish city (40,000) about ninety miles south of Knoxville. With everyone at the 'fest being local, I had assumed they would have known I was talking about the city in-state. Oops.

  2. For most of my life, I thought the Washington Redskins were from Washington state and not from DC. I only learned otherwise in the past two years. (I don’t watch sports.)

Around here, some get confuzzled by South San Francisco. SSF is indeed, south of San Francisco, but it’s not immediately south - there are four or so cities between the two.

And, another one that trips people up is Chicago and West Chicago, which is about 40 miles southwest of Chicago. North Chicago is also about 40 miles away, but at least pretty much due north. East Chicago is worse - not only is it quite a few miles away from Chicago, it’s in a different state.

But the Real Ontario is in Oregon. Confusion example: My mom called a national hotel chain’s 800 number to book a reservation there. “But we don’t have any motels in Ontario.” “Of course you do, it’s right off I-84. I’ve stayed there before.” “They don’t have Interstates in Canada.”

Vancouver WA and Vancouver BC are also a good pair.

I have a BIL that lives on South Dakota St. So most of our mail to him gets returned since the zip code isn’t in South Dakota. (Insert long USPS rant here.)

In this city, the interurban train station is called Gare Centrale and the bus terminal is Station central d’autobus… both of which translate as Central Station.

That’s caused more than one mixup.

In the early-'80s (well before the incredibly beefed-up airport security procedures) a man thought he was on a flight to Oakland (CA). He wondered why the flight was so long, and discovered he was on his way to Aukland (NZ).

The same thing happened to Stephanie and Michelle Tanner in an episode of Full House but it all turned out okay in the end when the airlines returned them to the states and they were given a stern yet loving lecture from Danny and, of course, a Tanner Family Hug™.

What? I was ten when it first aired.

We know a girl (from Tennessee, IRC) who got accepted to graduate school in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She drove up to Saint John, New Brunswick and was surprised to learn that she still had two days more to go.

I grew up in Minnesota and then moved to Rochester, New York. Telling people where I was moving was an exercise in frustration, because most of them heard exactly half the place name. Rochester, Minnesota ninety minutes away “Oh, that’s not so far”. or New York, which meant New York City. Take my word for it please, the city of Rochester, NY is not like NYC. Life there was not really all that different from life in Minnesota.

Back when I was in college, I went to school in the town of Waterville, Maine. The only real way to get there from where I lived (Chattanooga, TN) was to fly to either Portland, ME or Bangor, ME, with Portland being the simpler choice.

My freshman year, after the winter holidays, I went back to Portland, ME. The folks in Chattanooga, attempted to send my luggage to Portland, OR. Luckily, however, I caught the airport code discrepancy before I boarded my flight and was able to get them to fix it. Took a little explaining though.

For the life of me, I can’t remember the place names, but there was an article on CNN a while back about people who were trying to go to one midwestern destination, but ended up at another one about 700 miles away. It was apparently a pretty regular phenomenon once people started booking online. (Ha! Googled “Wrong airport code” and whammo:

I was buying a ticket online once to Johannesburg South Africa but accidentally typed in JHB as the airport code, instead of JNB. Luckily, I immediately noticed that the oddity in there being only one airline offering flights there (Virgin) and realized I’d attempted to fly to Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

Might have been a cool trip.

When I first read this, I thought… Well then what the hell does it mean? (I’d always assumed the same thing.) Then I checked your user location.