vfyw_12-28

A reader writes:

The tall buildings side by side, vegetation and proximity to the water all suggest a hotel on the east coast of Florida. And if it weren’t for that island in the distance, I’d be pretty confident it is Miami Beach somewhere, maybe the Fontainebleu Hotel, 8th floor or so. My only hope is that most players are taking the Christmas week off and that this guess is in the right zip code.

Another:

Weathered concrete facades look like East Asia, probably South Korea. My guess is that it’s somewhere close to the southwest side of Haeundae Beach in Busan.

Another:

Seems obvious to me that it’s Vancouver, BC – the architecture, the fog, the water and the islands in the background.

Another:

I feel like I only write into this contest when it’s an Italian window. Call it laziness or a sureness in my convictions, but that’s what I recognize. Anyhow, this view looks awfully much like the view across the Bay of Naples toward Misenum from Pozzuoli, Italy. The vehicles in the look European in origin and I could have sworn (maybe my memory is playing tricks on me) that those apartment towers are in that city.

Another:

An Nahdah, Saudi Arabia? Another needle in a haystack picture. But I would probably do better if I didn’t get distracted by user pictures on Google Earth. This week I learned about Red Sea slugs and the country of Oman.

Another

Nha Trang, Vietnam? I’m probably wrong but I figured I would give it a try based on memories of being in the place. It looks like it’s outside of the main part of town, but the lack of motorbikes is what has me thinking I’m on the wrong track.

Another:

Long-time reader (and subscriber!), first-time VFYW guesser. Happy to see a familiar view. That’s the Aterro de Flamengo waterfront in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I think around Rua Machado de Assis. If memory serves, all that area past the buildings is landfill that moved the shoreline out (water used to lap up to where the buildings now stand). If you haven’t read it, Machado de Assis’ Dom Casmurro is a classic. The love interest is described as having captivating “eyes like the undertow” (olhos de ressaca), a phrase that always stuck with me.

Another:

From the Malecon Center building on George Washington Ave., Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I want to win that book.

Better luck next year! A family entry:

By now, my wife and daughter have both taken an active interest in this weekly VFYW contest. Generally, we’ll collaborate and come up with a consensus guess. Not this week. None of us spent a great deal of time researching our ideas (it’s busy holiday time after all), so our entry contains all three of our “gut” guesses. There are some bragging rights regarding who gets closest. The three guesses are Qingdao, China; Myeik, Myanmar; Canton, Equador. As a previous contest winner, I’ll be getting some heat if my guess (the China one) isn’t closest.

Ecuador is the closest among those guesses, but the correct country is actually a little farther north:

My best guess is that this is taken from Calle Uruguay in Panama City, Panama looking out onto Av Balboa/Cinta Costera, the building on the right is the Hotel de Meridien, on the right just past this is the Club de Yates and in the distance is the Causeway. Taken in rainy season (although that makes up 9 months of the year!). Whoever took this will be enjoying the non-rainy, less humid, and slightly breezy time of year now. Other than the crazy taxi drivers, I wish they would have captured a Diablo Rojos for you!

Many readers correctly guessed Panama City, and several knew the exact building:

The view photo looks south from the Waldorf Astoria Panama located on Calle 47 Este in Panama City, Panama. Lining up sight lines to the neighboring buildings from TripAdvisor traveler photos taken at the 7th-floor pool level and one from the 15th floor, I’m guessing that the view photo comes from the 12th or 13th floor. Let’s go with room 1320 just for kicks. From the 15th floor:

correct-guesser-panama-city

I admit to getting a bit lucky on this one; it could easily have taken up hours, but I found it, amazingly, in about 20 minutes. The palm trees said tropics. The shore showing a lower tide level along with the calm waters and heavy boat traffic said port/bay. My first thoughts were maybe somewhere in the Caribbean, or Africa … so not too much to narrow it down.

I actually started with a Google search on “port city bay Africa” which returned a number of links for Port Elizabeth and Nelson Mandela Bay. So that’s where the search began, halfway around the world from the actual view location. I knew the distant islands/land mass with large buildings shown in the view would be a pretty good tell-tale. Quickly I was zooming out my satellite map search beyond Africa and spinning the globe to check out the Caribbean … first Cuba, then Jamaica, then I moved over to Central America. Panama came into view first, zooming into Panama City it all came together.

The twin islands, Perico and Flamenco, part of what I now know is the Amador Causeway, looked promising and I moved on to scanning the shoreline for the buildings shown in the view. Soon I was plotting hotels, and the Waldorf Astoria proved to be the one.

Thanks for giving me a good diversion and a weekly nudge toward a self-imposed lesson in geography! My wife has started ribbing me with Carmen Sandiego jokes for my contest efforts. I’m thinking next week I’ll have to get our three-year-old daughter in on the fun!

An aerial view:

unnamed

Another reader:

After years of reading the site, I finally got one. I recognized this immediately – and it probably didn’t hurt that I’m stuck in frigid Boston waiting for my Panamanian girlfriend to return from Christmas with her family. Their apartment’s view isn’t too far off from this one.

Another reader with ties to the country:

I have lived on and off in Panama since 1976, first for two years straight and then for month-long visits. I was last there from September to December, 2007. The changes to the urban fabric have been mindboggling. When I left, none of the waterfront highway extension – ciclovía, costera throughway, and parking lots – existed, nor indeed had their construction begun. Neoliberalism unbound produces a whole new cityscape of highrises that keeps expanding up and out. Happily the former US Fort Amador complex, once off limits for many years to all but a few US servicemen – and then to strongman Noriega and a few of the Panama Defence forces – is now open to all; and people throng there, especially on weekends. From it you have a view of a forest of high-rise towers across the bay that bids to eclipse Miami.

Another view from above:

panama city, bella vista

Of all the people who guessed the Waldorf, six have guessed correctly in previous contests without winning. Our winner this week just missed the right room number:

waldorfviewI think the picture was taken from the new Waldorf Astoria, at 47th and Uruguay St. The building seen to the right is the Villa del Mar apartment complex. Here’s a picture from Trip Advisor with almost the same view. Trying to guess a room/floor which would be easier with more ground-level images but I’m not finding any Google Street View available. I found another very close view a little to the right that was from 1211, so I’ll guess room 1209.

Have a happy New Year!

And a Happy New Year to all of our contest followers. As a year-end bonus, we made a map of all contest entries from 2013:

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 1.15.19 PM

Zoomable version here. From the submitter of this week’s photo:

I’m a former winner (contest #73, Benghazi) and wanted to contribute for either the contest or just the regular daily view from your window. The picture was taken from Room 1207 at the Waldorf Astoria in Panama City, at the corner of Calle 47 and Calle Uruguay (there is no street number).

As for the story behind the photos, I’m nearing the end of an almost-around-the-world trip – I start a new job in January and quit the old one at Thanksgiving in order to give me some vacation time. I’m blogging about the trip here (my blogroll link to the Dish has hopefully resulted in at least a few new visitors to your site). I spent two minutes in North Korea at the DMZ, ran across some undercurrents of dissent in Shanghai (as well as a lot of non-religious Christmas displays), had a nasty ferry ride out of Macau, caught a piranha in the Amazon rainforest (where I came upon some remote oil installations), and had a few other adventures.

Even the VFYW grand champion, Doug Chini, missed the hotel room number; he went with 1212. But he was playing with a handicap this week:

I only had an hour or two of free time to search and I was fighting a toothache so strong that it had me squinting with my right eye closed. Pro tip: one-eyed-view hunting, not a good idea.

(Archive)