Have You Visited Your Town’s Twin?

Have You Visited Your Twin Town? – words Alan Woods

The idea of twinning towns really took off in the 1940s after World War Two, as a way of encouraging friendship and unity between different cultures.

During the seventies and eighties, there was a real craze for groups from one twinned town to visit the other, with coach-loads of retirees visiting their counterparts in a twin town, or classes of kids going on foreign exchange holidays.

Today, this happens a lot less, most probably because of the rise of independent travel. As well as travel being a lot cheaper than it used to be, many people no longer feel they need the comfort blanket of travelling in a group; they’re much more willing to go and explore new places by themselves.

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Boring Oregon City” (CC BY 2.0) by functoruser

However, that doesn’t mean that the spirit of the twinned town is dead. In the UK alone, there are 47 counties whose towns have a twin somewhere in the world. Some towns seem surprising partners, while others have a “logical” bond. Research provided by money-saving website Voucherbox highlights some good examples. For instance, it makes perfect sense for the unfortunately named Dull in Scotland to be twinned with Boring in the USA and Bland in Australia. The three towns celebrate the mundanity of their nomenclatures together and each has a range of self-deprecating souvenirs based on their humdrum appellations.

With other twin towns, though, it’s harder to see the natural connection. Some seem to be more fashionable or ‘cool’ than their counterpart. Birmingham in the UK doesn’t have a really exciting reputation, even though it’s the UK’s second city and it welcomed more than 37 million visitors in 2015. However, its twin town happens to be Chicago, home to the Chicago Cubs and White Sox baseball teams. Birmingham, on the other hand, only has West Bromwich Albion featuring in the Premier League at the moment – and somehow that doesn’t conjure up quite the same iconic image as either of the Chicago MLB teams. And while President Obama and Kanye West were both born in Chicago, Brum’s claims to fame for homegrown talent include musician Noddy Holder from Slade and the inventor of custard, Alfred Bird.

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A Musical Match-up

Although they didn’t make it onto Voucherbox’s list of interesting twin towns, two towns that seem to make a perfect pairing are Belfast in Northern Ireland and Nashville, Tennessee. Music is the thread that ties them together. Belfast has a proud musical heritage and hosts its friends from Nashville every February for the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival. Belfast visitors to Nashville, meanwhile, can soak up the history of country music at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and take a walk along Music Row, the music industry’s equivalent to Hollywood, while they’re there.

Football Fanatics

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Two other cities that seem to be a twinning match made in heaven are the UK’s Liverpool and Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. They both share an incredible football heritage, with Liverpool’s fans following Everton and Liverpool FC, while Rio is home to top teams Botafogo, Fluminense, America, Vasco de Gama and Flamengo. And while Liverpool has its Merseyside Derby matches, any match between Flamengo and Vasco de Gama causes just as much rivalry between their fans who all come from the same city.

Next time you want to venture to pastures new, and you have no particular destination in mind, it could be worth checking out which town yours is twinned with. Maybe your town is punching above its weight and has a glamorous twin you could go and hang out in. You never know, visiting your town’s twin could take you on a totally unexpected adventure.

Have You Visited Your Twin Town? – words Alan Woods

 

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