The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #236

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 23 2014 @ 3:27pm

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A reader thinks we’re being topical:

Cuba, of course.

Another gets topical himself:

In honor of Andrew’s final appearance on The Colbert Report, here’s my truthiness answer for this week’s VFYW – Portugal, because it feels like it – and no amount of facts can change my mind.

Another appreciates the “seasonal appropriate Dickensian feel” of the scene, while another, after surveying many hotel windows in coastal England, finally settles on Dover:

Somewhere in the general proximity of the White Cliffs of. I hope I’m completely wrong. Somehow I would feel better if I were barking up the wrong tree, rather than simply being incapable of climbing the right one.

The most popular incorrect guess this week gets us, at least, to the right part of Europe:

We Alaskans always feel a kind of kinship for these arctic locales.  I haven’t been to Bergen, Norway in 30 years, but it reminds me of what beautiful human-scale architecture can make of these cool rainy climates and steep terrain.  A few towns in SE Alaska have some similar elements (Juneau and Sitka), but we are far behind the Norwegians in building livable cities as aesthetic as these.

Our Scandinavian readers really came out of the woodwork for this week’s contest. Here’s one who recognized the right country immediately:

This made me so homesick I had to put in a guess. It looks like Denmark. Could be any small fishing village I guess, so I’ll try Nordby on Fanø where my patents live and where I wish I’d be for Christmas.

Another Dane guesses Svaneke:

No interest in hunting down the actual coordinates.  But thanks for the memories.  It was 1980 … expensive cigarettes … cheap herring … Soviet warships … skinny dipping … youth … Jutta …

A longtime reader seizes his moment:

I’ve been following VFYW for years, quietly, patiently waiting in the dark for an easy prey suitable for my skills would show up.  And by skills I mean random coincidence and luck, because at some point some window would be from a place I could recognise. And finally. This was that one window.

The city is Ærøskøbing, which is the main city on the small island of Ærø in the southern part of Denmark. In what we Danes call the Sydfynske Øhav (the southern Funen archipelago). The photo is taken from the small hotel Pension in Vestergade 44. It’s taken from the narrow window facing north from the room called Karnappen (it does not have a number).

My process: My parents having unprotected sex could be seen as the first step in figuring this out. However, I do think it would be more correct to say that my being born into a family of sailors in another small coastal town in Denmark was the first and very important step in guessing the window. Second step was immediately recognising the view as an old Danish coastal town. Since they all pretty much look the same, I was very happy to notice the top of the ferry in the background, which narrowed it down quite a bit. The first place I thought of was Ærøskøbing. I looked at google maps and Vestergade is the only street leading to the ferry. I randomly clicked streetview on Vestergade and ended up in front of the yellow house from 1749. And that was pretty much it. Also, there’s a photo of the window on the hotel website.

I’ve sailed quite a bit in those waters, but only been on land in Æreskøbing, sailing as a teenager many years ago. It rained and we only stayed long enough to have lunch and supplies.

Another first-time correct guesser adds:

I actually stayed at this B&B many years ago. It’s one of the cosiest places I’ve ever been. If my recollection serves me right it is run by a nice English lady who serves tea at 5pm sharp with scones and her own jams and marmalades. If you ever want to step into a real life H.C. Andersen fairy tale town, Aeroskobing is the place.

Via a former winner, here are the precise windows:

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Another veteran runs through the clues:

The architecture, apparent weather and license plates immediately pointed to Northern Europe.  There’s a car park at the end of the road and the smokestacks of a ferry just visible above the roofs.  So, small town with ferry port somewhere in the British Isles, perhaps northern France, Holland, or Scandinavia.

My first inclination was the British Isles, so I spent a while searching Google images of ferry lines around England and Ireland but none of the ships seemed to have the right yellow paint job.  “Yellow ferry” wasn’t that helpful really; it turned up page after page of Corsican ferries.  I then moved through the Netherlands before eventually hitting Denmark, and lo and behold, the Ærøskøbing ferry:

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From there it was a hop skip and a jump to use Street View up from the harbor to the Pension Vestergade 44.  The distinctive 1749 building across the street and “EL” of the “HOTEL” sign a few doors down made it easy to pinpoint the window, the half-width one in the middle of the linked streetview, on the thin face of the building perpendicular to the front.

Ærøskøbing looks like a really lovely place. I’m sure many contestants this week will point out that it’s famous as a well preserved middle-ages town, and is apparently only accessible by that ferry.  I’ll also throw in that their local specialty is apparently Ærøpandekager, “very thick pancakes”, which I now want.

Here’s how another contestant also ferried to the right spot:

The clues in the picture pointed to a port in northern Europe, perhaps Germany, Scandinavia or a Baltic state.  Yet as with the Halifax contest, the ship seemed to be the most important clue.  I started in East Frisia working east along the coast, then around the Danish coastline before recrossing the German border into Schleswig-Holstein.  When back in Germany searching ferry companies near Eckernförde, this picture of an Ærøfærgerne car ferry popped up.  The ship is the M/F Ærøskøbing (Wikipedia shows the ship displaying an older livery) and it is the very same ferry docked in this week’s contest picture.  Somehow I missed the company’s ferries while poking around ports in Denmark.  With the M/F Ærøskøbing identified, it was easy to find the Pension Vestergade 44 in Ærøskøbing on Ærø island in Region Syddanmark, Denmark.

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And this player led a small team of Facebook friends in the hunt:

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Another adds:

The Pension’s website notes: “The house was built in 1784 by a sea captain as a dowry for his daughter. Much later, a well known sculptor – Gunnar Hammerich – lived here.”  According to the Danish Heritage Agency it was, originally, a pharmacy.

It was the “1749” house down the street that led many to Ærøskøbing:

This week’s photo takes me back to my last semester at university, which I spent on image002exchange in Denmark.  Great country, with an inordinate number of extremely attractive people. Once I realised the photo was taken in Denmark, a couple of quick searches on the usual photo sharing sites later and I was able to identify the building on the right hand side of the photo as this building on Vestergade in Ærøskøbing on the island of Ærø.

Also: Thæ ådditionål lættærs in the Dånish ålphåbæt are åwæsomæ ånd I løvæ åny øppørtunity tø bust thæm øut.

But readers didn’t miss much else this week, either:

The main clue that helped me determine the country was actually the manhole cover. The radial pattern with the double division on the outer rings is a design specific to Denmark.  They are made by the Norwegian foundry Ulefos Jernværk which was started in 1657:

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The license plates also helped.  Even though the closest one was blurry, the colors on it match a form of plate used by Danish vehicles that are for both commercial and personal use:

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There’s some Dishhead heritage in the town as well:

I was so excited to see the window for this week’s contest because I recognized it immediately as the city that my family is from: Aeroskobing, Denmark. I love Aeroskobing because it is charmingly called the “Fairytale City of Denmark” due to its charming little houses. I also love the fact that most of the houses have the names of cities on the back of the houses. Because Aeroskobing is a shipping town, these towns signify the sailor’s favorite port/sailing location. The two houses that my family have are the Pacific and Alameda houses. I have attached photos of them and of the charming pension courtyard and their lovely dog, Hector:

Aeroskobing-house-names

 Meanwhile, our contest warrior-poet returns:

I’m makin’ this short, I won’t pander, son,
Not on the turf of Hans C. Anderson.
And this near to Elsinore… it’s just too damn hard,
Evoking a hamlet as well as The Bard.

Houses with build dates make great Google snoopin’,
Can’t read the Danish? Just say “Aye-roosh-koopin”.

There were a lot of correct entries this week. One player tries to stand out:

Since everyone is going to guess this one, I will refine my guess by speculating that the photographer is 37 years old, male, approximately 6’1″ tall with a moustache, who prefers wearing berets and owns an extensive collection of antique glass insulators from the early 20th century.

Chini always stands apart:

VFYW Aeroskobing Overhead Marked - Copy

When I found last week’s view it brought back miserable memories of trudging uptown for supplies, bedraggled and sleep deprived after Sandy hit. Finding this week’s location, on the other hand, initially evoked no memories at all, but it should have. Two years ago the Dish featured one of the hardest contests of all time in VFYWC #134. It was so hard that only one person found the right country despite our having a whole extra week during Christmas to hunt for it. I remember being so lost that I briefly searched the Texas coastline.  But that’s the beauty of the contest; this week’s location is only 25 miles away from that one but it’s a thousand times easier to find. Why? As always, the clues…

Another hard-core regular is equally compelled to keep playing:

There’s a singular feeling that Dish contest veterans get when you find that one image or street view and you know you’ve nailed it. It’s a rush of adrenaline and pride, like finding that lost earring that your wife dropped under the couch. It’s what keeps me coming back, even after winning the contest.

And this reader finally takes the plunge:

I think this is the first time I have actually really TRIED to solve a VFYW. This despite having followed the Dish for many, many years, and enjoying reading the entries to the contest. But this time I was sitting with my girlfriend, pointing out interesting articles on the Dish, as I often do. I had mentioned the VFYW contest to her before, and now I thought I’d demonstrate what the fuss was all about. I already had an idea that this picture might be from Denmark (where I live), since the architecture and the ferry in the background was very reminiscent of old Danish fisher villages. Details that immediately stuck out were the lamp post, the sewer cover, the cobblestones, and the license plates on the cars. So, what remained to be determined was what city…

This ended up being a fun conclusion to a browsing session that started with a discussion of depictions of the Madonna – my girlfriend has a Master’s in Art History and her thesis was on depictions of the Madonna in the Renaissance. Like many others have said, this is what I love about the Dish – you never know what you are going to encounter – art, politics, sexual mores, or a sudden trip down memory lane (I grew up near Ærø, but have only been to Ærøskøbing once, almost 35 years ago, to visit a cinema that was showing Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein…).

And the Dish absolutely depends on word of mouth like the above to reach new readers, so if you need a last-minute gift idea, consider sharing the Dish. Meanwhile, the last prize of 2014 goes to a 17-contest veteran:

This week’s view is from the Pension Vertergade 44 in AErøskøbing, Denmark. aero1Based on a picture on the pension’s website this is a view from the room named Karnappen looking down Vestergade to the ferry, which is visible in the picture.My first thought on seeing the picture was Iceland – perhaps Reykjavik – but that didn’t pan out. Then I focused on that ferry, and the markings on the funnels. That led me to the AErofaergne which run between the island of Funen and AErø in Denmark. Didn’t take long after that to figure out the rest. This is one of those contests that has revealed someplace new and interesting that I now want to visit. So, thanks for that.

When combing our inbox for contest candidates, this week’s view really stood out, as it was taken on a very special day by one of our most accomplished regular players. She explains:

Coolest second anniversary ever!!! I don’t know how intentional it was to post that picture on that date but you made my year, especially because my husband has been working overseas and got home for the holidays just the day before.

I took that picture on the morning of our wedding day, December 20, 2012, in Ærøskøbing, Denmark, on the island of Ærø. The view is from the Pension Vestergade 44 in the Karnappen room. img_0264I cannot say enough about Pension 44 and its owner Susanna. We went back just this summer (my husband purchased tickets as a 1st anniversary present) and stayed there again, and we hope to return many more times.

When Danes would find out that we were both American and getting married in Denmark—in the winter, no less—the response was always, “WHY?!” My husband and I met in Spain but for two Americans getting legally married in a lot of European countries is possible but a hassle. Recalling a Rick Steves episode covering Ærø, I Googled “get married in Denmark” and discovered two things: First, that getting married is a relatively smooth process there even for non-nationals. It’s a popular destination for not only Danes marrying non-Danes, but EU citizens marrying non-EU citizens or partners from other EU countries. Second, we found Louise, who runs Danish Island Weddings in Ærøskøbing (also notice she owns the domain “getmarriedindenmark”—smart gal). In the two years img_3876_finsince our wedding the island has become increasingly popular as a wedding destination and Louise’s business has grown with it, deservedly so. Ours was a sort of planned elopement—the only people there were us, the officiant, and our two witnesses were Louise and our photographer Camilla, who lives and does much of her fantastic work on the island.

All this is not meant to sound like an ad, but our wedding and our stay in Ærøskøbing was everything we could have possibly asked for. We made friends there that we saw again this summer. We can’t wait for our next trip back.

Thank you so much for an extra chance to re-live this day on our second wedding anniversary! I’m including a picture taken at the same time looking the other way down the street and, because I can’t help myself, one of our wedding pictures taken in the town (the latter c/o Camilla Jørvad Photography).

Thanks so much for sharing. We’ll start off 2015 with a much harder view, so come back on Saturday if you crave a good puzzle amidst the eggnog and revelry. Until next year …