We asked our staff about the craziest intersections in the world and then played Ms. Pac-Man in Google Maps

The World
The Google Maps Ms. Pac-Man feature is superimposed on top of maps, allowing the user to play the game anywhere. Above, Ms. Pac-Man is outside the WGBH offices in Boston.

By now, you've probably noticed that Google rolled out a pretty comical April Fools' Day feature this year: plopping Ms. Pac-Man right in the middle of the street of the Google Maps mobile app. We used the opportunity to look at some of the weirder places in the world to play the game.

Baarle-Hertog, Belgium and Baarle-Nassau, Netherlands

From Clark Boyd, senior producer, PRI’s The World:

There are 20-some separate parcels of land, the result of medieval treaties, which means some houses straddle the border and the country of residence is determined by the location of the front door. If you play Ms. Pac-Man here, you’re able to cross the border several times during one game.

View this place on Google maps

Dark grey lines show some of the Belgium-Netherlands borders that you can cross in the town of Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau.
You can only explore a small portion of a city in the Ms. Pac-Man feature in the Google Maps, but there are so many unusual borders in Baarle-Hertog that you can still cross into both countries several times while chasing ghosts. Google Maps

Mwenge, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

From Brandon Hundt, UX architect, PRI:

I introduce to you Mwenge, the (mostly) unavoidable intersection of major roads in the northern part of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. When I look at the map today, it doesn't look all that crazy, but when I lived in Tanzania from 2007 to 2008, this intersection was under construction, meaning the pavement gave way to dirt and five to six to eight lanes, err lines, of evolving traffic. I quickly learned the quickest way through was to just stay close to the bumper of the car ahead of you and hope that they were aggressive enough to clear the path for you. Also at the corner was the market where seemingly every wood handicraft sold in the country was made, leading to extra pedestrian traffic.

View this place on Google maps

An intersection in Tanzania looks simple in a map view, but the traffic backs up and tangles with pedestrians and artisans in a marketplace.
At first this Tanzanian intersection looks simple, but many lanes mixing with pedestrians cause traffic and that can take up an hour to get through.Google Maps

Savoy Court, London

From Jonathan Dyer, managing editor, PRI’s The World:

Savoy Court leading into London's Savoy Hotel is one of few places where cars drive on the right in England. The change is a holdover from when carriage drivers would reach back and open doors directly behind them and a passenger would be able to enter the hotel immediately. 

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The map shows Savoy Court in Ms. Pac-Man mode and a more regular Google Maps view.
The street where Savoy Court meets the Strand is one of a only a few places in London where cars drive on the right instead of the left. Ms. Pac-Man has no such restrictions, however.Google Maps

Black Rock City, Nevada

From Alex Newman, senior data journalist, PRI:

Even though it only exists for a few weeks a year, Burning Man’s Black Rock City is a permanent feature on Google Maps. The city grid is the same every year, but the street names change to reflect the festival’s current theme. 

View this place on Google maps

The map shows the street grid for Black Rock City, a city that exists only during the annual Burning Man Festival, held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It also shows what the grid looks like as a Ms. Pac-Man game.
At left, a slightly zoomed out view of Burning Man's Black Rock City street grid, which exists only for a few weeks around the annual art festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. At right, a zoomed-in version of Ms. Pac-Man on BRC's streets. Google Maps

Do you know other interesting intersections? Let us know in the comments below.

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