A reader writes:
Wherever it is, I want to go to there.
St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands? I believe this is where my family used to live in Charlotte Amalie. I can't pinpoint a window, but I think I have the right location. My dad moved here as I left for college to run the local Lutheran Church, which I believe is the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. Our house would have been half a mile to the right of this picture (right next to the Governor's mansion).
First time player. Is it Waterfront Drive, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands? I just finished organizing my pics from my USVI trip. Great place. Apparenty Road Town holds one of the largest hedge funds in the world. Not a bad place to hang out, though I prefer Jost van Dyke.
It's Cannes, France … and I'm sure I'm the fiftieth (if not the thousandth) email you've received so far with that answer. The festival started earlier this week, so this one was easy.
Simpson Bay Lagoon, St. Martin is the answer. Only two minutes of Google. No special stories. Please mail me the book ASAP, need it for wifey's birthday. Thanks.
Alright, I give up! I am probably off on this guess, but hell, I've been sitting in my pajamas searching Google Maps for Caribbean marinas for the last two hours. I'm hungry, have work to do, and on top of that it's a grey dreary day outside – which is not making all these Google image searches of beautiful bays any easier. I may be way off, but it's time to guess and hope for the best: Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia – specifically the view from Palm Haven Hotel. Google Maps view here:
The water that continues to the left in the map would have to be hidden from view in your window shot – plus that extended jetty can't have been there or can't be visible in the photo. Which means I'm probably wrong. But like I said – stuff to do, Sullivan!
Easiest view ever: Looking northwest over Gustavia Harbor in St. Barts.
I assume the prize will go to someone who can pinpoint the villa or hotel room from which this picture was taken. Or, you could disappoint all the overachievers and just give the prize to me, a longtime Dish reader who's writing in for the first time. Keep some hope alive for the slackers among us.
OK that was too easy. That's a very well known harbor in the Caribbean. I have sailed there twice. Probably the most beautiful Island in the entire Caribbean. If you ever get a chance to go there I highly recommend it. If you really want to feel inadequate, go during New Years or during the St. Barts Bucket yacht race. I was there during the Bucket back in March. I was in good company; Roman Abroamovich was in town. Well at least his yacht Eclipse was:
It made our 45' rental look like a tender. Oh how the other half lives.
Having struggled so much with previous VFYWs and never coming too close to the answer, I'd stopped looking for the contest each Saturday. However, this time I took one look and recognized Gustavia Harbour in St. Bart's right away. Not going to go all contractor and slide-rule-y to figure out the exact window, but definitely would be one of those nice villas just up the mountain from Rue des Normands. I've attached a photo I took looking into the town from the harbour entrance:
What a beautiful place – there's a reason so many ultra-rich French go there for the winters. Head down that road to the south-west and you'll quickly come to Shell Beach, great fine white sand, a very nice Brazillian restaurant co-owned by Yannick Noah and probably the only beach I've ever been on where all the women choosing to go topless apparently just came here from the Parisien fashion runways. As I was just a poor schlub on day trip from St. Maarten, I was advised to go to the local burger joint Le Select to avoid the huge tabs you'd run up at the fancier restaurants. And it was much cheaper there, only 16 Euros ($22) for a burger.
This is a great time of year to be in St Barth's. There are few tourists, so you don't need to fend off the mega-rich to get into the chic restaurants and clubs. My first visit to the island was this time of year, seven years ago, with my then boyfriend, now husband. We couldn't have asked for a more wonderful week.
I hear that the nightlife is hot, but I have only been there in the company of my family with small children in tow, so I wouldn't really know. We enjoyed the beautiful beaches and snorkelling in the small marine preserve that can be seen in the background of your photo. A favorite memory of this island is watching a slim, middle-aged chain-smoking Frenchwoman getting her exercise by striding through waist-deep water while chatting away on her cellphone. She marched back and forth in front of us for a good half hour, topless, incredibly tanned, and smoking all the while. Perfect.
Another sends an aerial view of the port:
I’m not technically savvy enough to send you shots from Google Earth with nice little red arrows showing the spot and direction that the shot was taken. Also, I’ve only ever responded to the contest once before, so my chances of winning are miniscule. Therefore, I’ll just inundate you with fun little anecdotes about the island and our visits in the hope of at least getting a mention in this week’s posting:
-The trip where we kept having uncomfortable run-ins with the “elderly gentleman” and his much younger (and clearly paid) male companion who was upset because on the flight down my frequent flyer status trumped his and I was able to upgrade my partner into first class, leaving his “friend” to stew in coach. He was not happy and let the gentleman know it right there in the boarding gate and on the whole flight to Sint Maarten and the puddle jumper to St. Barth’s. We saw them at beaches, bars, restaurants, boutiques, we couldn’t get away from them on that trip (it really is a small island).
-Visible in the picture is the tiny cute steeple of the island’s Anglican Episcopal Church built in 1855, which is now a pretty cushy little posting for various retired priests who come in on rotation.
-Also visible running up the right hand side of the photo is the Rue de la Republique, which houses most of the town’s toniest boutiques, bars and restaurants. It was in the Polo/RL boutique off this street that I once literally bumped into Claudia Schiffer. To be clear, with my 250 lb bulky frame when I say bumped into her, I mean I sent her sprawling onto a table display of blouses and swimwear!
In a previous life, I was a Mormon missionary. Most missionaries end up in places like Tulsa, or Mexico City, or Temple Square in Salt Lake. I went to the West Indies Mission, French Speaking, and spent two years in Martinique, Guadeloupe, and St. Martin. We weren't allowed to swim in the ocean or anything else that was very fun, but we could take day trips on our day off – our "p day", for preparation day. On one of these days we took the ferry from St. Martin to St. Barts and rented a buggy, driving all over the tiny island. This photo is Gustavia Harbor, from behind Gustavia Church, where there is a tract of small houses on the Rue des Normands (Norman and Breton fishermen from France settled on all the French-owned islands, especially the Iles des Saintes). It's named Gustavia because St. Barts used to be the only Swedish colony in the Caribbean, before being handed over the the French.
And yes, it was a fantastic place to go on my mission. Though the world converted me, instead of me converting the world, thanks for the reminder!
In researching the place, I learned that the town, Gustavia, was named for King Gustav III of Sweden, as St. Barts was Swedish for a few decades before the Napoleonic wars, after which Sweden gave it back to France. I didn't know Sweden ever had a Caribbean colony. Wikipedia gives us the picture below of Gustav, for whom Gustavia is named, and tells us that "[f]or the consummation of [Gustav's] marriage, the king [his father] requested the assistance of Adolf Munck, reportedly because of anatomical problems both spouses possessed." The mind boggles on so many levels.
I've never been there, but the place looks like paradise. The good news is it's off season and apparently they're having a sale. I could have a modest one bedroom suite from this Saturday to the following Sunday for only € 4,317 (about $6,090). And the round trip air fare starts at $1,316. Something to think about.
I have actually been to Gustavia, many years ago, on a day trip from St. Martin. The airport in St. Bart's has a very scary approach, with a big white cross on the hill, where there have been some fatal crashes, but the island itself is delightful, and very French, with fine dining.
My wife and some friends had dinner there the night before Hurricane Lenny hit and marooned us at our Hotel in Flamands on the water for over a week. While it was an adventure at first, without power and toilets it quickly became something else. Of course it went to a Cat 5 so that was also … let's say interesting. On a brighter note, they ended up opening up the wine cellar, literally. Sipping Clos de Vougeot with your sandwich rations did take the sting out it!
I knew this one from the moment I saw it! Gustavia Harbor is one of the most beautiful and iconic ports on Earth, especially at Christmastime when the world's most magnificent yachts will anchor here. Attached the exact same view taken a few moments ago. My husband and I and three kids – aged 6, 4 and 9 months – moved to St. Barths in January. We dont often make it to the Gustav Hotel, but we called the babysitter and made a special trip tonight, just so I could win a book.
Here's a link to the hotel's live web cam. I assume it's located on the roof, and so the view here is from an elevation slightly higher than the one from the restaurant. Come visit!
Another sends a view of the hotel:
I've been following the VFYW contest for weeks, often spending several maddening hours trying to figure it out. This time I got it in 30 seconds. I googled "hilly Carribean Island". St Barts popped up first, so I checked it out. A map of the island revealed an inlet on the coastline that seemed promising, with the town of "Gustavia" nestled in there. When I clicked on a Gustavia link, a photo popped up that was nearly identical to the contest photo.
Now if it was this easy for me, it probably was for hundreds of others as well. How are you going to break this massive tie?
It was tricky. This week's contest was perhaps our easiest yet, based on the hundreds of people who correctly guessed Gustavia Harbor. Among those readers were about a half-dozen who correctly guessed difficult windows in the past but narrowly lost. But only one of those readers got the right hotel:
After a great deal of frustration with last week's contest (I looked at the Google Maps satellite view of the actual location but didn't think it was the right place!), I found this week's window with much greater ease. The picture practically screamed "Carribbean," and a search for "Carribbean port red roof" eventually brought up a picture with immediately recognizable profile of the headland in the background of the VFYW picture. The location from which it was taken appears to be from one of the villas of the Hotel Carl Gustaf, just above of the Rue des Normands. This looks to be a pretty swank place, from which I gather that Dish readers include the well-heeled.
Congrats! The prize is on its way.