The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #150

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 12.22.41 AM

A reader writes:

The presence of the large billboards, bordering this lovely park, Tivoli Gardens, was dismaying to see, when I visited Copenhagen some years ago.  They seem to have proliferated. The juxtaposition is unfortunate. The architectural feature of the building to the right is reminiscent of the ultra-modern museum which was completed less than 10 years ago. The presence of both classical and modern architecture, as can be seen in the photo, is also typical of Copenhagen. The Baltic is in the distance.


This looks like it was taken from the back of the Prince Hotel & Residence in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – quite possibly in one of the restaurants or conference rooms there.  The big clues are (a) the red soil that is so common in SE Asia – especially Malaysia and Thailand; (b) the Japanese SUVs  and (what may be) a few of their drivers hanging out around one of them and (c) the Ferris-wheel with the over the top lighting around it.  I’ve stayed at the Prince before and this looks a lot like it.


With ten minutes to spare, I’m going to guess Lima, Peru.  The clues I used to make my guess are: primarily Japanese cars, driving on right hand side of road, and coastal billboards appear to have Roman script. I used that to rule out most of Asia, and I thought about countries that have a strong tie to Japan but are not in Asia. I know that there is a strong cultural link between Japan and both Peru and Brazil as many Japanese emigrated to those countries in the 20th century.  I don’t know if a cultural link translates into whether the citizens will buy cars, but I don’t have a lot of time.

Another is on the right track:

Definitely sub Saharan Africa. Cars are driving on the right side of the road, so we can eliminate a lot of the Southeastern countries in Africa. There’s a lot of greenery, so I’ll go with what I imagine is the greenest country in Africa. I’m guessing this is Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The architecture is so distinct that I know someone is going to get the right window, but here’s hoping I’m at least somewhat close.


I thought this would be an easy one – how many fancy new buildings could there be that look so much like a bath tub? More than one unfortunately, since a very fancy new museum that looks exactly like a bathtub was just built in Amsterdam, and pictures of it filled every Google image search I could think of. Damn you, Stedelijk! The pink ferris wheel was no more help. But the trees in the lower right look like I imagine sub-saharan Africa, so I’ll say Addis Ababa because a friend hails from there, and I’d like to think it’s as nice a place as the photo seems to depict.


I flailed around a great deal with this one. I couldn’t find any building that matched the weirdly-shaped one to the right, and I’m sure someone has been there before. I was going to settle on Luanda, Angola, based on the traffic (not much) and the climate. But then I remembered Luanda has been an answer in the past, so I decided to go to the other side of Africa. I can’t find a great match for anything, so I’m just going to shoot for Maputo, specifically the Cardoso Hotel. Hopefully I’m not the dreadest “first guesser” who is always the farthest away!

Another nails the right city:

This is my first time to get one of these!

I knew it had to be Africa, with the acacia trees lining the roads, the wall around the parking lot, and, for some reason, the vertical red billboard. I was going to guess Nairobi, Kenya, because of how green it is (and I love Nairobi), but then I noticed the ocean in the background. Accra, Ghana! It’s got to be! I remember the city shocking me with how modern and western it looked compared with Cotonou, Benin and Lomé, Togo, where I had just spent a summer completing an internship in ethnomusicology.

So, it was Accra – I went straight to Osu, which I remember being very built-up, then drifted west toward downtown. Behold, the National Theatre! The shape of that building stood out. The picture is taken from the Mövenpick Hotel, Victoria Borg, Accra, Ghana, looking roughly east-southeast at the intersection of Independence Avenue and Liberia Road. Maybe the 4th floor? The National Theatre is in the right midground of the picture and the Atlantic Ocean is in the background. Woo!

Another sends an aerial view:

VFYW Accra


I feel like I am cheating here. This is downtown Accra, Ghana. I recognize it because I am originally from Ghana (presently a graduate student at the University of Virginia).


The Möevenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra, Ghana near the corner of Liberia Rd. and Independence Ave. technically, postal address is PMB CT 343, Cantonments Ridge, Accra, Ghana. GPS: 5.554369,-0.202426. Bonus points for using the umlaut, please. Extra bonus points:  my photo of the National Theater, from 7 years ago, whilst visiting my beautiful daughter on her semester abroad from NYU:


Super-bonus points: I lived in Accra as a child, many many moons ago, well before the National Theater was built, as a “gift” from China.


What a fun feeling to immediately know the view when the picture flashes on the screen! The distinctive building on the right is the National Theatre in Accra (where my wife and I enjoyed a stunning performance by Ismael Lo about 15 years ago); across the way is the new (well, used) Ferris Wheel in the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park (where our daughter had her first ride on a pony even longer ago), and the road in front is Independence Avenue is where we watched armored cars roll in Ghana’s final coup more than 30 years ago.

Thank goodness Ghana is now growing extremely rapidly and is firmly stable (stable enough to have its own controversial supreme court case about the recent presidential election – arguments are being held right now, and everyone is confident that the dispute will be resolved peacefully). The picture is taken from a reasonably high, north-facing room in the gorgeous new Moevenpick Ambassador Hotel (somebody has a nice expense account!). I won’t bother guessing the specific room; I’m sure you’ll get a few who will do the calculation.

A closer look at the hotel:

Window - Moevenpick Hoteld

Another nails the right floor:

This week’s photo is from the either the 6th or 7th Floor of the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Agra, Ghana. If I had to guess it would be the 6th floor, Room 637. This photo is from an odd numbered room, likely one of the ambassador suites (since those are on the upper floors) looking out towards the intersection of Liberia Rd and Independence Avenue. The taller building on the left side of the photo is part of the World Trace Center Complex and the white building on the right side of the image is the National Theatre.

But the winner this week is the most detailed entry among the three readers who correctly guessed the 6th floor:

Bam.  This photo was taken from the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra, Ghana looking south of east. Based on dead eyeball reckoning it was taken from one of the three indicated windows on the 6th floor:


Undoubtedly, others making correct guesses will have recognized the oddly shaped building on the right to be the National Theater of Ghana, stayed at that very (swanky) hotel, or somehow read one of the unreadable advertisements next to the Coke billboard (I Googled ‘comb’ before figuring it out). My clue, however, was the dark green van with a yellow stripe in the road just below that Coke billboard.  It is probably a tro-tro, which are basically large taxis that serve as a bus system in Ghana. The tro-tros, especially how they were always packed and had religious slogans prominently displayed, were among the many things that fascinated me during my recent visit to Ghana:

Oh Grace, please let us reach our destination in one piece!

My brother interns for Global Brigades in Ghana coordinating groups of undergrads that come in to staff medical clinics.  Since he wasn’t going to make it home for either holiday for the first time in our lives, my aunt, a family friend, and I brought the family to him for Thanksgiving.  It was quite an experience seeing him in his element, and also because it was my first time in a developing country.  Thus, the country roads, and I mean country roads, were mortifying, but seeing an elephant take a relaxing dip (in poem form) made the trek worth it.

And to think, the other day I contemplated skipping over the VFYW contests for good.  I shall travel more so that won’t happen again.

From the submitter:

As a previous winner (contest #55 – Luanda, Angola) and a weekly follower of the VFYW contest, I would like to submit this view from my hotel room in Accra, Ghana. The photo was taken from the 6th floor, room 641 of the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel facing east.  This week in Ghana marks the beginning of the Supreme Court hearing in their version of the 2000 U.S. Presidential election dispute. Everywhere I went, the public was glued to their TVs as the case of the disputed Ghanaian presidential election of 2012 was being aired. Ghana is a model for other African countries in terms of respect for democracy and rule of law on one hand, and entrepreneurship and progress on the other hand.