by Chris Bodenner
This week’s puzzle was the least participated yet, likely due to the August lull, Andrew’s absence, and the level of difficulty. A reader writes:
Not an easy one, is it? The roofs and shutters suggest southern France, or possibly northern Spain. I am gonna go with southern France, and just to make a guess: Languedoc region, possibly Corbieres mountains. Lezignan?
Now, we’re talking. I’m still waiting for an image of such obscurity that no one possibly could imagine what it is. This is close, but there are clues…
The blue sky, shingles on roof, water in the background, and well-made wood doors indicate Mediterranean origin. I was tempted to choose a Greek island, given the blue laundry hanging in the background that matches their flag. (Europeans do not like displaying flags after the wars, but perhaps there is a subliminal draw to the color.) But I’ll have to choose Spain. The wood doors and black shudders look old-Spanish. Low vegetation in the background would seem to indicate one of the Balearic Islands. For an English readership of the Dish, I’d have to lean towards Eivissa.
I have no fuckin’ clue. Although, I will say the thing that came into my mind first was the courtyard/rescue seen from the In-Laws with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin. I think they were in Honduras … so I’m going with Honduras for this very valid reason. Wikipedia tells me the capital is Tegucigalpa, so that will be my city.
This is a tough one for sure. My gut feeling is that this photo was taken on a Greek island. There is a hint of water in the background, indicating a rocky shoreline. The place is obviously arid, hot and sunny, with scrubby vegetation. It could be any number of places along the Mediterranean, but Greece seems most likely. However, with some 9,000+ miles of coastline, I don’t even know where to start. So I’m just going to throw Crete out there as my final answer.
I wasn’t far off on Sarajevo. I had Savannah within a few blocks. But when I looked today, I had no blessed idea where to start. My husband leaned over, took one look at my screen and said, “Sicily.” So hey – I’ll go with that.
Architecture and landscape suggest Italy. There’s a beach in the background, and based on the shadows, I’m going to guess that the beach is on a northern coast. The hills don’t match the southern Adriatic coast, and the architecture lacks the Venetian influence of the northern Adriatic. That leaves Sicily or one of the smaller islands nearby (just doesn’t feel like Sardinia). When I went into Google Earth, I couldn’t find any towns on Sicily that quite matched the orientation of the beach shown in the picture. But I found one on Isola Lipari, so I’m going to take a stab at this and say Acquacalda, Italy.
It looks just like a building from a spaghetti western, so I’m going to guess suburban Granada, Spain.
Mallorca, Spain? The un-whitewashed shallow-sloping buildings look like solidly southern European farmhouses, or at least buildings that have been constructed in an old farmhouse style. The landscape – rocky, arid and treeless – looks more like Spain, and I think the complete lack of trees suggests one of the Ballearic islands. I found a few pictures using Google, of similar buildings in Mallorca. Even if I am right, I don’t have the local knowledge or the fortitude to really dive deep and identify the exact location using Google satellite view, so will leave that to someone else!
This is the hardest yet!
Perhaps I’m missing some locality specific clues? Stucco and red tile roofs; dry summer weather but not tropical vegetation. Compound is raised a little above a bay. Where do they have such compounds these days? That’s not clear. The housing seems rudimentary though it has modern electricity. But old buildings and water trough. Is that a laundry cart on the balcony on the left? A hostel or inn at some Mediterranean beach – but the grounds aren’t very well kept. I spent at least ten hours touring what seems like every bit of the coastline of the Med with Google Earth – as well as the close-by islands (and Mexico!). Since Google Earth is insufficient in some areas to identify specific house types, I know I didn’t cover everything.
In the end I found little evidence of compounds like this and it seems to me that the modest beach buildings of yore in Europe have given way to relatively upscale housing. At some point, my mother, who has been getting quite involved with these contests, called to say she had seen a travelogue of Madeira and it reminded her of this picture – the same types of houses, hills, etc. Unfortunately, the travelogue was probably from the ’50s. So, even though I did not see this site on my several trips around the island, I’m going for the island of Madeira, which belongs to Portugal.
I hope “ten hours” was hyperbole. Another:
Very typical Corsican shutters and red tiled roofs. Rough Mediterranean terrain is from the northwest part of the island. I’m going with Calvi, Corsica, France.
Getting warmer. Another:
Sardinia! Buildings look Italian, roof tiles look Italian, shutters, windows and doors look Italian, hinges look Italian. Landscape in the distance looks like rocky, low lying green brush, thorny, sun-drenched Mediterranean. Angle of photo could be looking north, which would put us on the west coast because of the slightest sliver of water to the right, which clearly puts us smack dab…
WAIT! Suddenly, Sardinia seems too wealthy for this photo. Something about that shack in the center middle-ground says Sicily instead of Sardinia. And the windows on the two foreground buildings – a little more worn, a little more closed up, a little more weary of life… But something about the portal in the courtyard wall seems more Roman that Sicilian? Google maps along the southwestern coast of Italy are too poor to conclusively pinpoint the location.
So I’m heading back to Sardinia. And since I have to get back to work, I’ll say Buggerru.
Oh so close. Another:
Such a sad little courtyard! I hope the potted plant on the right makes it through the summer. I’ve toyed with a few island and coastal locales along the Mediterranean, but I’m going to have to go with Sardinia, Italy, near Alghero. I know, I know, I’m a zillion miles off!
About 80, actually. Another:
I am a sailor in the U.S. Navy, and I lived in La Maddalena, Sardinia for 11 years, from 1995 to 2006. I was stationed aboard the submarine tenders USS Simon Lake (AS 33) and USS Emory S. Land (AS 39). (The Navy no longer has a presence there, as everything was shut down and the ship sent back to the States in 2007.) La Maddalena is a small island in the Maddalena Archipelago located at the northeast tip of Sardinia; the largest town on the island is also called La Maddalena. The sub tenders were actually located on another small island, Santo Stefano, which is less than a kilometer from La Madd.
Anyway, as soon as I saw this week’s window, I felt homesick. The terrain in the image is identical to La Madd’s, and the building looked familiar, like one I used to pass while walking to the beach. After some googling and Google Earthing (which made me even more homesick), I believe the view is from Residenza Cala Francese, 07024 La Maddalena, Sardinia, Italy, looking north-northeast. Some better pictures of it can be found here.
I feel pretty confident about this one.
As you should – congrats! We’ll get a Blurb book out to you shortly.
For a while now, I’ve been meaning to find a good way to display everyone’s guesses, particularly in a dynamic way, but I haven’t had the time or know-how yet. If any readers have suggestions, please email them to VFYWcontest@theatlantic.com. Here is what I whipped up with Google Maps (“A” marks the answer):
See you Saturday for the next installment.