by Chas Danner
A reader is thinking Central America:
Only a guess, but I went to Guatemala years ago and it was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever been. This has the same feel.
Another argues that “palm trees and high mountains suggest an equatorial highland location such as Bogotá, Colombia, where the McDonald’s (near right edge) would not be out of place”. Then again, maybe it’s Bosnia:
Some of the architecture looks like old Soviet-style buildings … there are some fir trees … city has a vague Eastern European feel to it … and there is a mosque on the far right of the picture …the multi-variate correlation that fits is Sarajevo. Here’s to hoping I’m right. BTW, these contests alone are worth the $20 subscription.
Another shares a vivid memory:
I remember standing on the parapet of Chapultepec Castle on a remarkably clear day in Mexico, DF and seeing the spectacular view of the mountains Iztaccihuatl (Sleeping Woman) and Popocatepetl (Smoking Man). This was in the ’90s and the air was rarely clear enough to afford such an opportunity. I asked a gentlemen in my poor Spanish how often you could see the mountains and he replied maybe two days a year. It’s a much more frequent sight now, but only the Mexican calendar artists can give you this [seen above].
The most popular incorrect guess ended up being Rio, with other readers throwing their darts at Tehran, Lima, Scottsdale, Bogota, Taipei, Barcelona, Jakarta and Yavin IV (again). And this reader has hobbits on the brain:
This is clearly taken from the Galadriel Suite (Room 407) of the Sheraton Minas Ithil and Suites (formerly the Trump Morgul). That modernist geometrical building is the Osgiliath Convention Centre, designed by Daniel Liebeskind. The post-war (of the Ring) Gondor official plan called for low density housing and parkland in much of the Anduin Valley lands, but a succession of Wardens of the White Tower allowed for the condominium developments that now dominate the view of most Minas Tirith residents (small mountain at rear on left).
Either that or Santiago, Chile.
At first I thought this might be an untypical view of Rio – that iconic mountain from some other angle. But with my limited ability to manipulate Google Earth, I couldn’t make it work. And what really bothered me were what appeared to be Italian cypress trees. They grow in a Mediterranean climate, of which there are several outside the Mediterranean itself. (I went down the Sicily path for a while, but to no avail.) I know from my environmental scientist sister that Brazil does not have a Mediterranean climate, but Chile does. AND it has the Andes! So on that flimsy evidence, I’m going with Santiago de Chile. With my luck, this is really in Southeast Asia …
Southwest Asia, actually, where this reader arrives, nailing the right country:
There is no useful Street View in Ankara, Turkey but I’m pretty convinced that’s where we’re looking. I’d love to spend more time on it, but I’m at a conference with terrible WiFi. Hope I’m not a hemisphere off!
Another sets the city straight:
I see you threw in some Rio-esque mountains in the background just to trick us. I started my search with pyramid buildings in Rio — there actually is one! But it’s nothing like this one. So I moved on to searching for pyramid buildings around the world, and spent about 5 minutes before finding one that looked a hell of a lot like this one. Antalya, Turkey! A beautiful place I’d never heard of … I’ll put it on my “places to go some day” list. Then I just lined up the view with objects from Google Maps satellite view.. the pool… the green structure … the gazebo. It’s gotta be the Falez Hotel. But I can’t find any matching balcony photos or anything like that — the railing and the overhang don’t seem to look like anything I can find. So I’m just saying the 6th floor to say something.
I wouldn’t recommend staying in this hotel. All the pics submitted to TripAdvisor are of broken things, dirty things, and a Russian woman with her hands on her hips.
The pyramid was of course the key breadcrumb for most correct guessers this week:
Pretty easy one after last week’s stumper. I’m sure the ratio of mud brick houses to glass pyramids (not in Paris or Las Vegas) is a million to one or better.
Lots of readers flagged the right building but named the wrong hotel (the Ozkaymak Falez), and this former winner explains why:
Much easier this week. The contest picture contained so many clues that Turkey’s southern coast became the only place to search. Antalya, Turkey popped up right away with this beautiful image. Once in Antalya, the position of the beach, the McDonald’s and the hills of the Beydağları Coastal National Park to Antalya’s west led to a particular hotel. Google Maps incorrectly identifies the hotel as the Ozkaymak Falez Hotel, a rundown establishment popular with both male and female Russian tourists and garners scathing reviews on TripAdvisor. Luckily for the person that submitted the contest picture, he or she stated next door to the Falez Hotel at the Rixos Downtown Antalya (a former Sheraton).
As for the window, massive hotels are always difficult. The window is on the hotel’s west side on a fairly low floor. Because the tennis court lights are visible but the trees block us from seeing the courts’ surface, I’ll guess the 5th floor. The hotel contains a few curves on its west side. Because the hanging lattice shows the building curves right where the contest window is positioned and because the balcony railing goes only a short distance before curving away to the north, I’m guessing that the contest window is in a room right at the southernmost curve on the hotel’s west side. My window guess is highlighted:
Another veteran took a different route:
A tricky contest. The clue that eventually gives the country away could also get you bogged down. The mosque at the right end of the picture tells you that this is (probably) an Islamic country; but another photo of that same mosque is nowhere to be found. After a fruitless (and very boring) search, you give up and begin simply looking for a city at the foot of a mountain range; since those minarets have their closest counterparts in Turkey, this is the country to start with (well, actually I started with Indonesia and Malaysia: all those palms got me a little off track). And in fact, this week’s picture was taken from the Rixos Downtown Hotel (Sakıp Sabancı Boulevard, Konyaaltı Beach) in Antalya, Turkey. As for the mysterious mosque, it belongs to the Faculty of Theology of the nearby Akdeniz University. There are not many photos of the mosque because it isn’t there yet — at least not entirely — it’s still in construction:
For you new players out there, this is how it’s done:
Good thing there was a McDonalds in the picture. That was the big giveaway.
My first thought was “Great. Deciduous, conifer AND palm trees.” But the tall, dark, narrow conifers appeared to be Mediterranean Cypress, so that narrowed the search area. Then there was the mosque in the far right background. That narrowed it further. Of course, it was the “Cam Piramit”, that determined the correct city. This picture shows another view of the Can Pirimit with that uniquely shaped hill behind it:
Flying video tour of the Cam Piramit here, complete with resounding music:
The picture you posted was taken from what is now the Rixos Downtown Antalya but used to be the Sheraton Voyager Hotel. Here is another picture from that hotel, but one taken from before the trees grew up to mask the tennis courts of the “Antalya Tenis İhtisas ve Spor Kulübü” next door. The picture also clearly shows the yellow ball topped sculpture:
OK. So correct building. What about the window? It is on an inside curve, so my best guess as to which window is this one. At least I’m closer that I was last week in Morocco:
Another reader laments the changes the city has undergone:
I am not going to look for the exact hotel room, because this gets depressing. Many of your readers share wonderful memories of those hotels from where the picture comes. I have not been to the hotel, but the contest does bring up memories of the location. Growing up as an expat in Istanbul, I have been on vacation on those beaches west of Antalya in the late seventies. There was a little country road running parallel to the beach, towards Kemer, and there were a few primitive campgrounds tucked away under the pine trees, where you’d set up the tent in the sand (or you didn’t, because it wouldn’t rain anyway), and a crazy guy called Arap Mustafa would cook wonderful village food for dinner, on a gas stove set up on a concrete slab under a makeshift roof. Sandy beach, crystal-clear clean water, pine trees. Nothing else.
Seeing how today the entire stretch of beach between old Antalya and the mountains, a good 10 km, is occupied by urban sprawl, unregulated industry, freeways, ugly cheap hotels, and ugly expensive hotels, I want to cry. Or puke. There are many places in Turkey I want to go back to. But Antalya I am not going to visit before the next massive earthquake or tsunami.
It is one of the most egregious instances, where one of the most beautiful regions of one of the most beautiful countries in the world has been mindlessly sacrificed to global tourism. And, of course, the push to open the next pristine beaches or nature preserves for tourism development continues full throttle, so that the buddies of the Erdoğan administration can make more money.
Apologies to the reader who is probably enjoying their vacation there. I hope you had a great time. But to me, it was a reminder how deeply ambivalent modern tourism is in third- and second-world countries.
Another master class:
I was pleased to see minarets on the left side of the photograph as they are among my favorite architectural elements. The style was reminiscent of those in Istanbul and other major cities of Turkey and the vegetation was also consistent with landscaped sections of these cities. None, however, had the distinct and dramatic mountains of the contest photograph. Eventually I found them in a photograph of Antalya. Once there, the hotel, its ample grounds, the tennis courts, swimming pool, and the glass pyramid in the contest view were fairly obvious.
The photograph was taken from a balcony where a major turn occurs in the hotel’s curving exterior. This change in angle is clear in the railing and sun shade alignments in the foreground of the contest photograph. The line-of-sight along the balcony railing appears to extend along this entire section of the hotel’s façade, including railings for five or six rooms, until the railing turns out-of-sight around the next bend. This is the only location I could find that explains these bends while also avoiding views of other sections of the hotel’s façade (see illustration). The floor chosen was based roughly on the height of the trees seen in the contest photograph and their relative heights in photographs of the grounds.
Chini reminds us:
It’s been two years since we last visited this country in VFYWC #126, a contest which I remember only because it was the same weekend Hurricane Sandy arrived. This one takes place under far less hellish circumstances and, given the wealth of clues, I suspect someone is gonna have to nail the right room number to win their VFYW book.
This week’s view comes from the Rixos Downtown Hotel in Antalya, Turkey. The picture was taken on roughly the fourth floor (room #443, perhaps?) and looks west-south-west along a heading of 257.85 degrees.
Wow that’s a close guess, as this week’s photographer explains:
It is from the Rixos Hotel, Room 445, Sakip Sabanci Bulvari, Konyaalti Sahili, in Antalya, Turkey. We had a great time there. There was a film festival happening when we were there at the pyramid-shaped building seen in the photo.
This week’s winner got pretty close too:
I must say, I thought this week’s contest was going to be hard, but all the clues, as Chini says are right there: Mountains, palm trees, sports (tennis anyone or swimming?), minarets in the background, etc all point to Turkey. The pyramid building was the big fat clue and that place, the Sabanci Congress and Exhibition Center just puts everything into place.
The shot was from the Sheraton Voyager Otel hotel. Now the room, without a map, and a good photo, I’m going to guess that it’s on the 4th floor, and room 455.
In perusing the various websites (Tripadvisor, Hotels, etc.) I can’t believe how cheap the resort hotels are in Antalya are. I also found out that Antalya is ranked third behind London and Paris for international arrivals. There’s Greek, Ottoman, Byzantine and Turkish history all over this town with ruins, clock towers, etc. As of the 2010 census there are over a million people living there. Another interesting place in the world!
Well, I know I’ll lose to a better room finder than I, but just in case this week’s contest is too damn hard and I won’t enter – I want to wish everyone at the Dish a Happy Holidays – you guys often make my day. Here’s to a great 2015!
Same to you, though be advised our final contest for 2014 arrives this Saturday. Until then, here are some more of the images you submitted this week: