Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Did you know you can take the train to Brathlavstan or fly to MaastrAachen? The portmanteau title of Daniela-Carmen Crasnaru’s 1998 poetry anthology Austerloo prompts us to reflect on portmanteau terms in European geography.

article summary —

Have you ever heard of Brathlavstan? Until recently we had not. And when we did stumble on Brathlavstan, we were surprised to find that it lies on the banks of the Danube downstream from Vienna. The name hinted of somewhere distinctly more exotic.

In fact Brathlavstan is a rare European example of a portmanteau place name. The name refers not to a country but to a railway station, namely Bratislava hlavstanica, which both the German and Russian railway ticketing systems (and, for all we know, many others besides) abbreviate to Brathlavstan.

North America bristles with portmanteau place names, from Calexico and Mexicali (two sides of a community that straddles the border between California and Mexico) to names like Michiana and Arklatex (which both refer to interstate regions within the United States).


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About the authors

hidden europe

and Susanne Kries manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.

This article was published in hidden europe 34.