A reader writes:
The topography in the background screams Southern California. Though the trees in the foreground do not look native to the region, they look planted around either a business park or college campus whose architecture also scream Southern California. I’m going to say we’re looking at a corner of the University of California, Irvine business college campus.
This is clearly in the American West. It is too arid to be Bozeman or Boise, too lush to be Albuquerque, and not hemmed in enough (no Mormon underwear joke intended) to be Salt Lake City. I'll go with Denver.
So strange. I was trying to fall asleep at a friend's house in Denver, so I get out my iPad. Hadn't read your site for a couple days and there it is, a picture of the same view I'll be gazing at in about 5 1/2 hours, to drive back home to the mountains where I live. Well, not the *same* view; I'm further east and have a view of Mt. Evans, a 14,000 foot peak with a paved road to the top. In this picture, you can't see Mt. Evans – just some hazy foothills in the background, Green Mountain Going across horizontally in the middle of the photo (good easy mountain biking on that thar hill) and suburban Denver metro in the foreground. Where exactly in Lakewood I couldn't say, and I'm not about to Google Maps that shit 'cause I gotta go to bed! If I'm wrong, I'm going to look like a damned fool.
I am one of the many winners from the Bethany Beach, DE contest who didn't get a book. That was my first stab at the contest and I was really surprised and pleased at how easily I was able to solve it. Since then the contests have proven to be much more difficult.
I recognized this immediately as a view of Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. I searched for hotels near the park and landed in Alamosa with some promising results, but nothing looks quite right. Perhaps Alamosa is the wrong town, but there doesn't seem to be anything else within view of the dunes. My boyfriend backpacked through the park several years ago. I'm going to see if he has any good insights. Otherwise I may have to leave this here as I don't really have time to chase this rabbit today.
Another gets on the right track:
Based on the desert in the background, the low-rise buildings and the unmarked roads and bridges, I'm going to guess Ulaan Bator, Mongolia. Never been there, but the geography seems consistent with what I know about the city.
I haven’t played in a long while, mostly due to not having a clue when I’ve opened the photos each weekend. This photo, however, gave me an instant impression that I might be looking at a city in Turkey. For lack of any further recognition of precise location, I’m going with Alanya, Turkey because of the mountains in the background. Next time a castle in the background would be helpful!
Another pins down the right location:
Finally, I got one. This is Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The first clue was the building with the green roof is very typical of former Soviet republics – I've seen pretty much that exact same building in cities all over Russia. The mountains point to Central Asia; at first I thought maybe it could be Almaty. But the red, white and green flags on the left gave it away as Tajikistan, and a quick photo search brought up a very similar image. I believe this is take from the Hyatt Hotel, and is looking down towards Ismoili Somoni Avenue.
Dushanbe is the capital and largest city in Tajikistan, which is a former Soviet republic in Central Asia. The light pink/orange building that is a little left of center in the picture is the Ismaili Center.
Another sends an aerial view:
Spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the "CITY" billboard might mean. But googling "CITY" and billboard, even with all sorts of modifiers, got me nowhere. The tell was the flags in the bottom left. They are huge – almost certainly national colors, and consistent with country trying to show off. If it had been red, white and blue instead of red, white and green I'd have said car dealership in US, but the red, white and green suggests government facility or cultural monument of some sort. But where? Red, white and green flags:
Italy –> definitely no – absence of road markings rules out EU.
Hungary –> no for same reason.
Mexico –> arid mountains seem right, but again, architecture and lack of signs of high population density made this seem unlikely to me.
Iran –> colors are in wrong order, but geography and topicality seemed right. Didn't see any minarets, but that could just be the view. Thought the weird building in the center might be some kind of nuclear research center, but complete absence of security made that unlikely. Also didn't expect to see billboard in English.
Which left Tajikistan. Last place I checked, but everything fell into place. It's Dushanbe.
Judging from the Soviet-style apartment buildings and the boxy cars, this promised to be a city in the former USSR, somewhere in arid Central Asia. I started looking for significant details: the brown building in the center was conspicuous, but I had no idea what it was until later. Then I spotted two details on the left:
The green-white-green trolley bus color scheme that is only found in Dushanbe, as far as I can tell, and the red-white-green flags confirmed it was Tajikistan. There aren't that many skyscrapers in Dushanbe and the Hyatt Regency matches all of the criteria: it is near water and it is facing the Ismaili Centre. I have traced the location of the window to the 7th floor. I really appreciate these weekly puzzles, and tracking that trolleybus down was quite exciting.
The red, white, and green pennants to the left in the picture got me to Tajikistan and then once I went to Dushanbe (capital and largest city) I spotted the location pretty quickly. A couple of different sources say the hotel has 12 floors and it looks like the picture was take from 1 floor below that so I'll say 11th floor. I've attached a pic with a guess for the exact window circled. I'm guessing a lot of readers will get this one but if I do end up in the running I believe I was only one window off in the 12/31/2011 VFYW contest showing a pic from the hospital in Chicago.
About two dozen readers correctly answered the Hyatt Regency in Dushanbe, so determining a winner was tough this week. But the following reader was the only one to match the stated floor number from the photo submitter, as well as having correctly guessed a previous difficult window without yet winning – until today:
This week's VFYW contest photograph was taken from the Hyatt Regency hotel at 26/1, Ismoili Somoni Prospekt in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. It's looking northwest from the southern 'tower' of the hotel over the Ismaili Center, which Secretary of State Clinton visited just last autumn. I'm guessing it was taken from the 10th floor.
From the submitter:
I took this picture last week and thought it may be appropriate as either a contest or just to show on the site. Not too many Americans visit this country, I imagine, so it could be somewhat difficult. It was taken at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on the 10th floor, but I cannot remember whether it was taken from a hallway window or from my room number (1012) that night.
Another reader sends "an alternative view of the Ismaili Center at night":
One more notable entry:
I won the contest almost exactly two years ago for the week you had a picture from Krakow, Poland. But the contest is enormous fun and I can't help but participate, if only to share my thought process. For the week after I won, I was one of the few to correctly identify the correct city, which was Damascus, Syria. Two years ago doesn't seem that long ago for me, but Syria is sadly a very different place now.
This week's picture absolutely screamed Central Asia to me. I'd spent a few months there in 1997 and the wide boulevards and the ever present mountain ranges were unmistakable. The pastel buildings made me think it was Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and I assumed those were the Kopet Dag mountains but Google Earth quickly dissuaded me of that. My next guess was Tashkent, but I had trouble seeing anything so built up so close to the mountains. After seeing the colors of the flag on the lamp posts at left, I realized it must be Dushanbe, the capital of the only country from the former USSR's Central Asian republics that I had not visited in 1997, Tajikistan. During the 1990s, the Tajik Civil War made what was awful situation in most of the former USSR, i.e. an economic contraction much worse than the US's Great Depression, into something unimaginably desperate.
I had been seriously looking into travelling to Tajikistan in either August or September of this year. My hope was to go trekking in some of the mountain ranges in Afghanistan not too far from Tajikistan's border, in an area that has never seen Taliban forces. The cheapest flights to that part of the world were to Dushanbe and since the Tajik civil war was well into the past, the best overland transport to the mountains in Afghanistan was through Tajikistan. I had thought that I really owed the Dish some quality window views if I made it there! Since I saw this I feel a bit disappointed I didn't work harder to organize my life to get to that part of the world!
The view is from the Hyatt Regency Dushanbe at 26/1, Ismoili Somoni Prospekt. Part of the building is visible from the right of the image. I'm guessing that is the fifth floor, but I won't guess a room and window. The visible body of water is Lake Komsomol.
I hope you keep the contest going; I worry that interest might flag. But I always look forward to the contest and love reading other's thought processes. It always makes me feel better connected to the larger world, something the interwebs often promise, but often fail to produce. Even more than that I enjoy how wistful it can make me feel. Thanks!