The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #126

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 30 2012 @ 1:00pm

Vfye_10-27

A reader writes:

Now with two bingos under my name, but having lost the tie-breaker on numbers of guesses, I've resolved to enter every week, even for the more difficult guesses, such as this week. With the minaret, the mountains, and the sea, I bet you'll get two concentrations of guesses, one around Turkey, and one in Indonesia. Count me in the latter. I'm hopeful that the looming mountains on the horizon are the island of Java, and we're looking out from a small port town on the southeastern side of Sumatra – Bakauheni. I don't have a good guess on the location (ferry terminal?) but I'm hopeful that this is obscure enough that getting the town will be right.

Another:

Anacortes, Washington? If not, I'm guessing somewhere along the Puget Sound, looking towards the Olympic Peninsula. Also, I could be totally off base.

Another:

I somehow feel like I've seen this exact view on my various trips to Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago. As you head out of Port of Spain on Western Main Road toward the town of Chaguaramas, you see tankers heading into the Gulf of Paria to on- or off-load oil into the main port in downtown Port of Spain.

Another:

This picture is taken in summer from Vladivostok on the far eastern shore of Russia. Vladivostok is located on a thin peninsula and has an extremely busy port.  It is also home to one of Russia's largest Coca-Cola plants and has several kiosks like the one seen from the window.

Another gets closer:

Based on the clouds, shadows, and the direction of the TV satellite dishes, it's facing SSE. Based on the standing seam roof, the Coca-Cola machine, and the smattering of ferries, this is a reasonably developed and fairly westernized place, and the moderately onion dome-shaped steeple says somewhere with Orthodox churches. The best match I can find for a sizable mountain range across a navigable but not very wide straight over a SSE heading is the Sea of Corinth. I can't quite match up the two nearer islands or knobs, but street view is apparently pretty limited in Greece.

Another:

Ah, fiddlesticks! I really thought I'd be able to pinpoint this one …

but my obnoxious two-year old is demanding sustenance and although I would like it very much if she would use this opportunity to develop some self-reliance, I feel guilt beginning to awaken. Guess I will have to abort the search and start rounding up some grub. ANYWAY, I believe this is somewhere around Aqaba, Jordan, looking southwest across the gulf toward Taba, Egypt. I believe the island in the background on the right is Pharoah's Island, with a crusader castle built on it. Larger ships are heading to and from Aqaba's commercial port, smaller boats are near the municipal marina. The photo, I will guess, was shot from somewhere right around the marina. Can't find confirmation on Google maps, but I'd be willing to wager my daughter's trust that if this isn't Aqaba; it is somewhere on the northern Red Sea.

Another:

I think that is the Odessa dock, and I suspect many more people would know it if the photographer had a few hundred feet to his right, and shown us that the brick path leads down to the broad steps made famous by Sergei Eisenstein in "Battleship Potemkin". Before my wife and I had our sons we used to roam pretty widely, but the standout trip was three weeks of roaming in Ukraine. We had playing-card size chunks of salted fat wrapped around garlic, cleaned a grave of one of her ancestors, scampered up and down Crimean hill, but nothing topped Odessa. Few cities on the planet do.

Another:

I was kicking myself last week for not entering after I thought "gosh, that looks like Queenstown" and it turned out to be the exact hotel I stayed in there.  So here's my stab today.  The only place I've seen the horizon of the sea match the color of the sky, with darker mountains higher up, is along the coast of Turkey looking out over the Greek islands.  No minarets in the picture, though, so I bet it's looking the other way. I'm guessing Chios, Greece, looking towards Cesme, Turkey. It could be any of those islands, though.

Another:

I haven't tried these in ages, once the fanatics came out of the woodworks and took away the pleasure in totally random fucking guesses. I'll try for one of those "at least someone got the country right" things. This feels like Turkey to me. I can't say why, because the mountains aren't actually the ones you see from Antalya or Side or Alanya, but what the hell, I'm thinking of the southern coast. I bet it's actually Malaysia or some place on the other side of the world, instead.

No it's Turkey, so good random fucking guess. Another:

Yenikoy, Turkey? But it was the best I could do, from what seemed like very very little information in the picture (I am sure there are things I am not seeing).  It seemed like the country must be Islamic (or recently influenced, including Spain). Based on the tree to the right, Islamic influence, and other clues I am guessing it must be in the Mediterranean somewhere, and the northern hemisphere, which would mean the shot was taken facing the northwest.  I have spent some time now in Google Earth looking at coastlines that are near to major shipping lanes (cargo vessels), and have two small rocky islands in front of a mostly straight and hilly far coast.  Yenikoy on the western coast of Turkey was my best guess, though the angles and town don't really seem to match. 

Another nails the right city:

This view from Istanbul is unmistakable, looking out into the sea of Marmara toward the Princes Islands. Kinaliada is on the left and Burgaz is on the right. I'm sure there will be people who get it more precisely but I'll guess that it's looking out over the minaret of Mehmed the Conqueror's mosque at Kazlicesme in the Zeytinburnu neighborhood. Although on second thought the ornamentation on the minaret is too late, so perhaps it is another.

Another:

This picture was taken just to the south and east of the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (aka the Blue Mosque) in Istanbul Turkey, pointing south to the Marmara Sea.  The island in the center of the picture is Yassiada, and the minaret in just to the left of it is from the Akbiyik Mosque.  As for the exact location, there are several possibilities.  The area is saturated with hostels, hotels, and bed and breakfast boutiques.  Looking at Google Maps I'll venture a guess it was taken from the top of the Nobel Hostel.

Not the Nobel. Another sends a photo of the Akb?y?k Mosque seen below. Another writes:

Akbiyik_camii-22This is clearly a view of the Sea of Marmara taken from the Old City of Constantinople, most likely on the slopes that formerly contained the Byzantine Great Palace. One can see the outlying Princes Islands in the distance, Sivr?ada to the r?ght and Yass?ada to the left, the mountains at Yavlova on the other side of the Sea of Marmara loom in the distance. The area is now known at Sultanahmet, after the mosque built by the sultan of that name (known to tourists as the Blue Mosque). My guess is that the minaret seen in the scene belongs to the Ayb?l?k Cami (Aybilik Mosque) and that the photo is probably taken from the Hotel Sultanahmet Palace, Torun Sokak 19, Sultanahmet, Istanbul.

Not the Sultanahmet Palace either. Another:

Water + minaret + cedar tree = Eastern Mediterranean region.  Plus the architecture is vaguely touristy-looking, with the rooftop terraces. Eventually I started looking at the Sea of Marmara, which contains several islands and would be a major shipping route. A Google image search on "Sea of Marmara Islands" quickly identified the island on the right as Sivriada Island.  Looking for views of the island with the correct perspective led to Istanbul.  I was able to find the buildings in the photograph (the green awning with the white stripe along the top) in the neighborhood of the Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque), but since Istanbul is not covered by Google Street View (devious!), and because the photograph might be zoomed or cropped, I found it difficult to pin down which building the photo was taken from.  The attached image shows the area in question:

Istanbul

The arrow passes over the roof of the building in the foreground of the photo, and points toward the islands; I believe the photo was taken from the rooftop terrace of one of the tourist hotels within the red circle. Somewhere near 41°00'18.84" N latitude and 28°58'44.42" E longitude.  I am not sure how much to trust the hotel annotations on Google Earth, but those combined with a perusal of the photos on the various hotel websites leads me to guess either the Blue House hotel or the Hotel Askin.  Also attached is a screen shot from the virtual tour of the Blue House:

Blue house

You can see the cedar tree and the light pole or whatever it is, but the angle is not quite right maybe. Askin hotel is next door and a bit lower, so If I must narrow it down, I will say: rooftop terrace of the Askin Hotel, Dalbasti Sokak, No.16 Sultanahmet 34400 Istanbul TURKEY.

So close – the correct answer is the Blue House. Another sends a view from the front of the hotel:

Istanbul-blue-house-1

That reader also correctly guessed the third floor, but another reader who did so also answered a difficult window in the past without yet winning, so the prize goes to him this week:

This week's picture is heaven for me. Istanbul is with out a doubt my favorite place in the world. This contest has been painful because half of my searches have turned up pictures of awesome Turkish food. I've been hungry for the last 24 hours. The best way to find a view of Istanbul is to search for restaurants/hotels/etc. Most restaurants/bars/hotels in Istanbul have terraces on the roof of the building, and they love sharing pictures of their views on their websites (and pictures of their food, dammit). I'm embarrassed to say that the islands, which are part of the Princes' Islands archipelago, were the last part I recognized.

The ancient nature of the Sultan Ahmet district makes of the patchwork of roofs and buildings we see in this picture. You don't necessarily see that everywhere in Istanbul.  But man was this a tricky one.  Good thing for the distinctive minaret on the Akbiyik Cami/Mosque. Most minarets have sharp, straight edges, in my experience. The metal chimney on the right was difficult to find, but finally using a Turkish version of street views I was able to find it on Akbiyik Caddesi/Street. Which finally led me to the Blue House Hotel. Luckily for me, they have a 360 guided tour of the hotel, and a southern view from the 4th floor where you can see the chimney, minaret and islands:

Blue_House_Hotel_View

I believe the photo was taken from the 3rd floor though, because the 4th floor is looking down more than the contest picture. You also see too much of the minaret. The photographer must have zoomed in though. I don't see any other building in the area that can capture all of the noticeable monuments in the picture (including the red house in the foreground; the one with the green canvas for part of the roof, though it's not extended in the view offered by Blue House Hotel).

Istanbul, for me, is about the Princes' Islands. I love the city, but life is slower on the islands and absolutely ideal. No cars, less noise, beautiful (though polluted) water, and the same great food. No trip to Istanbul is complete without visiting one of them. I recommend Buyukada, despite it being the most touristy of the bunch. It has one of the best hole-in-the-wall koftesi (meatball restaurant) in Turkey. I'm really hungry now. I'm going to go cook some Turkish food.

Afiyet olsun.

Details from the submitter:

We have just returned from a holiday in Turkey and took this photo while we were there. Location: Room 35, Mavi Ev Hotel ("Blue House"), Istanbul, Turkey looking out over the Marmara Sea.

An aerial view from another close entry:

Blue-aerial

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