vfyw_1-4

What a reader sees:

Flat roofs, no visible vegetation, laundry hung to dry, crenellations, a hint of fortifications, a glimpse of the sea and harbor, and what appear to be bronze shields displayed here and there, and a general Mediterranean feel? Easy. Acre, in the 13th century, either looking north from the Genoese Quarter, or west from the Venetian Quarter. Either that, or 1st century CE Roman Ostia.

Another gets with the times:

I have no idea where exactly this is but it looks like what I remember from my room in Athens, Greece when I was there 13 years ago staying at the Hotel Stanley over New Years with my giant college marching band, the James Madison University Marching Royal Dukes. The band has continued to be both enormous in size and successful most recently leading the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. So my official entry is that is was taken from the 4th floor of the Hotel Stanley, looking toward the Aegean Sea to the south west early one winter morning.

Another:

Qawra, Malta. Surely that’s it.

Another:

This is an especially fun one because of contradictory clues. Satellite dishes facing us mean we’re facing away from the Equator, out to a beach that appears to be open sea. Not a minaret in sight: instead, the style of church towers signal a Catholic country of lower to middle income, and the light and architecture feel unsuited to snow.

But practically no cities this dense meet those two clues. North coast of Spain? Montevideo? When I ran out of time I was poking around Lima, Peru, so that will have to be my guess. Please publish at least one response from a satellite-dish geek explaining whether the vertical inclination of satellite dishes is some signal of latitude. Thanks!

Another satellite-dish geek:

I had a very tough time with this one, but feel I’ve got a reasonable guess.

First impression is of a coastal town in the developing world. The disparity in general crappiness quotient between the buildings on the left vs. right half of the photo is striking, and suggests an area that has seen a recent-ish influx of money (probably as a result of being coastal and thus of interest to tourists). The general appearance reminded me of coastal towns in Arab countries, but the absence of visible minarets threw me off the scent for a while.

A couple of additional clues looked promising: a stylized “N” is barely visible on one of the satellite dishes and there appears to be some writing on one of the walls. I searched in vain (for a long time) for some satellite service provider whose name starts with N and whose logo looks similar to the one I saw on the dish in our picture. No luck, which sucks because a clue like that could have really helped pin the location down.

Instead, the best I could do was to play with the filters and contrast and tease out what appears to be Arabic numbers (2487) on a wall, which at least would seem to confirm we’re in the Middle East. So after lots of searching satellite company web sites and playing with the photo, I came back to my first impression: Arab coastal town. In the course of searching satellite dishes, I’d come across other photos from Tunisia that looked quite similar, including lots of the square chimneys you see in our photo. So I chose a Tunisian coastal city, more or less at random: Sousse.

Another Tunisia guesser:

It looks like this picture was taken before sunset on a dry northern coast. Africa seemed to be the best bet. There are an abnormal number of blue doors and window shutters in the picture, and (according to the intertubes) Tunis is known for its blue windows and doors. So, Tunis it is!

Another:

I really want this VFYW to be in Oman. Several people have wrongly guessed Oman the past few months. I lived in Oman and really like Oman. I honestly don’t recall whether hanging laundry to dry in publicly visible areas was socially acceptable or common so that tempers my hope. I am virtually certain this isn’t Muscat where I lived and I doubt it’s Sur so that kinda leaves Salalah as the only city big enough to have such a neighborhood. So that’s what I’m going with.

Another moves in the right direction:

My best guess is that this is just outside Beruit, in an area called Jnah. Jnah is in the state/region of Mont-Liban, Lebanon. It is near Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport, and I’m hoping some of those specs in the sky are commercial planes, which would be the correct flight path out of that airport.

Another gets on the right continent:

I can’t place this, and don’t have the time today to dig for it, so I’ll guess the first thing that comes to mind: Algiers, Algeria. Rocky coast, chaotic looking neighborhood with run-down buildings. Reminded me of the great movie Battle of Algiers.

The view reminded another reader of a different film:

The photo reminds me a lot of Matt Damon running across the rooftops in Tangiers in The Bourne Ultimatum, so that’s what I’m going with.

Tangiers was a popular guess:

The large building in the photo looks to me like he Hotel Continental in Tangiers, right next to the Ancient Medina. The architecture looks like the architecture throughout Morocco, and the building placement works with the sea in the background of the image! In fact, this photo appears to have been taken from the Grand Mosque of Tangiers, which is located very near to the the Hotel Continental. Gosh I hope I am right …

Right about the country, but too far north. Many readers correctly guessed Morocco:

It definitely looks Arabesque, while being somehow Western. And while others would go for the obvious and say Casablanca. I know you’re trickster, so this is Rabat, Morocco.

Another gets closer:

The white houses, the rusty satellite dish, the clothesline, the density, the ocean view and the lack of church steeples all remind me of Casablanca, Morocco. I lived there for about a year and would do all of my internet browsing (including reading the Dish) up on the roof where the internet connection was strong. Is this Avenue Lalla Yacout from the rooftop terrace of the Majestic Hotel?

Another closer still:

The low buildings, flat roofs and coastal sprawl all suggest the eastern Mediterranean – and there is an arabic feel – but I don’t see anything built up like in Israel or Lebanon – maybe it’s Morocco? I’ll go with Asilah though I suspect that tower (is that what it is?) in the background will be a dead giveaway for someone.

Several readers nailed the correct city:

Essaouira, Morocco. Spent four days there last March. Water is pretty cold but didn’t stop us from swimming in the ocean at 4am after drinking with Canadians from Manitoba (they basically were traveling with a mobile bar).

Another:

I’m virtually certain it is Essaouira. I have a very similar photo I took while there a couple of years ago. I pretty sure I know more or less where it is in town. Unfortunately, I don’t have the Google Earth skills to pinpoint the exact location.

Another gets the right street in Essaouira:

I believe this week’s VFYW Contest picture was taken from one of the Dar 91 guesthouses on Rue Chbanat in Essaouira, Morocco. I’ve never been to Essaouira (only visited Rabat, Marrakesh, and Casablanca briefly in college), but the coastline looked familiar enough that Essaouira was the second city I looked at (after Agadir was a bust). By chance I recognized details of the large, long white building near the waterfront in Bing Maps’ imagery of the city (which is interestingly better than Google’s here), and then it was just a matter of getting the look angles right to find the site of the photo. In the image, the blue doors look like the Ancien Cinéma Rif, which led me to believe the image was taken from somewhere on Rue Chbanat nearby. Dar 91 seemed the more realistic place for one of your readers to stay in the area!

A former winner nails the correct building and suite:

This week’s view is taken from the Riad Chbanate, located at 179 Rue Chbanate Essaouira 44000 Morocco, looking northwest toward the Atlantic. Blue shutters and white buildings – that was enough for me to get lucky, again! After Mykonos, Essaouira (formerly Mogador) was the second place I took a serious look at after an image search turned up some promising hits.

The large newer-looking rectangular building on the right of the frame and rocks off the shore served as helpful aerial landmarks. The rose-petaled Riad Chbanate looks to be the right riad! From what I gather the view photo came from either a roof terrace common area or possibly the Chbanate Superior Suite. Confirmed by guest photos posted on TripAdvisor:

vfywcontest-essaouira-ta

Thanks again for a fun trip overseas!

Chini leaves no doubt:

When I was eight years old we went to Epcot Center and had dinner at the Marrakesh restaurant in “Morocco.” That’s about the closest I’ve ever gotten to the country in this week’s view and shockingly it didn’t help my search one bit. Nevertheless, this was a nice contest to start the new year with; not too easy, not too hard.

This week’s view comes from the old medina of Essaouira, Morocco. The picture was likely taken from the Chbanate Suite on the top floor of the Hotel Riad Chbanate, and looks almost due north along a heading of 352.08 degrees. Attached are an overhead view, a picture from inside the room, and a shot of the same view taken when the suite was just a roof terrace:

VFYW-Essaouira-Chini

Another star player also nailed it:

I was pretty confident that it was Morocco as soon as I saw the picture, but were it not for the long building close to the shore, I doubt I would have been able to pinpoint the town. This one is from Essaouira, Morocco, looking NNW toward the ocean. A rooftop panorama shows the unique building in the picture and where I think it was taken, which looks like it was under construction at the time:

ess_rooftop

I think it was taken from the Riad Chbanate hotel, from the Chbanate Superior Suite on the 4th floor – the website confirms that this suite was recently opened. The hotel is at 179 Rue Chbanate, 44000 Essaouira, Morocco. In the website’s photos of the suite and some traveler photos you can find the same view.

The tie-breaker goes to the reader who has participated in the most contests by far:

The photograph was taken from the Chbanate Suite at the Riad Chbanate, likely from the doors leading on to the porch. I was given a hint by a previous contest winner as to the city. His guess was off, but I found the rectangular building and worked back from there. Google Maps didn’t show much other than the Cinema Rif, which has a photograph online. And guess what? It’s visible in the window view, curved roof and all. (Finding old cinemas in the States on Google Maps by looking for curved roofs is an old pastime of mine; that site is very informative and shockingly poorly-designed.) Anyway, the nearest hotel to there is the Riad Chbanate (corner of Rue Chbanat and Rue Moulay Ismael), and the view from the Chbanate Suite (or perhaps the rooftop terrace, although it seems to lack windows) shows the same view as the VFYW submission, so going on the “these are usually taken from hotels” corollary, that’s where it is. (Also, this photo. And people seem to speak highly of the hotel on TripAdvisor.) Looks like a nice place to stay!

From the submitter:

Essaouira-window

Morocco is a tough country for VFYW since most of the traditional buildings have windows looking out into internal courtyards and not into the streets, so there won’t be so many images of the right window. These photos were all taken a week ago from the same window in a room at the top of a small riad hotel in the coastal city of Essaouira. The hotel is called Riad Chbanate, has only 8 suites and is located just inside the fortified walls of the medina. The suite we had was a recent addition built on the roof and so very light with great views over the city skyline. The correct window: Chbanate Suite, 4th floor (5th US) of Riad Chbanate, 179 Rue Chbanate, Essaouira, Morocco.

Essaouira is only a couple of hours west of Marrakech and is a more laid back, welcoming place. Good for seafood, windsurfing and a mild climate.

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