The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #221


A reader asks:

Is this a speed test this week?!

Not for everyone:

The Florida Panhandle? This is somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Another heads west:

Definitely on the West Coast with a temperate climate that allows both exposed plumbing and palm trees. I could find nothing about “Zone’s” other than it’s a tech company and also a catering firm on the East Coast. The rounded blue roofs look like they may cover platforms for a lite-rail system. It might be San Francisco, but I’ll bet on Portland, Oregon.

Just south, actually:

We’re in the US (“Private Property, No Parking” signs on the fence). The combination of cloudy skies, tightly packed buildings, tightly packed cars, and sparse palm trees screams Southern California to me, and particularly reminds me of the Pacific Beach neighborhood in San Diego.

Another gets closer:

Los Angeles? Boy, I could be totally wrong about this, but it looks so much like an early painting of Richard Diebenkorn’s.

One key clue led to hundreds of correct entries:

Thanks for the ridiculously easy contest. It’s a good opportunity to let the incorrect guessers know that they need an eye exam.

Another explains:

A building in the distance labeled either “Zane’s” or “Zone’s.” I’d searched these terms, along with words like restaurant, gym, store, and nightclub by themselves with little success. Once I deduced it was in California, I searched, “zanes california” and found this: It’s a restaurant located in Hermosa Beach, California.

Correct! A happy rookie:

OH MY GOD I ACTUALLY GOT ONE! Have tried several times in the past, but always pastedImageended giving up relatively quickly and lamenting the apparent futility of it all. Never even bothered submitting a guess. Now I know this isn’t the trickiest one in the world. No doubt I will be one of dozens to get it (or at least get the building right). No matter. To me, it is huge.

This picture screams SoCal. After that, the two biggest clues are the sign in the background and the building with the curved chimney. I decided to focus on the sign. And, after a fruitless search for “Zone’s” in various search engines and databases, I realized the “o” was an “a.” Zane’s. So a simple “Zane’s SoCal” led me to Hermosa Beach. After that, focusing on finding two blue houses side by side, Google Street View walked me to the Sea Sprite Motel and Apartments.

Thanks for the great work and for picking one us mere mortals had a fighting chance at!

Playing the contest is like Nintendo, it seems:

It finally happened. Dozens of such VFYW contests and humbled each time, until now. The best analogy I can think of takes me back to playing Super Mario Brothers on the original NES as a child. I could get to the final level, but time and time again I’d fail to best the evil boss at the end to save the princess. And then, one fateful day, it all came together. Perhaps through sheer luck, or maybe by logging enough hours to hone my skills, I made it through King Koopa and rescued Princess Peach.

My reward? A brief thank-you from that ungrateful princess. Then, the option to get sent off on a new quest altogether!! What the hell? Mario had risked fire-spewing lava and defeated a series of mutant reptiles, and all he gets is a mere “thanks” and an invitation for more life-risking adventures?! I’d assume if you get the title of “princess” one’s family could offer a little more in the tangible reward department.

I digress.

This view is from the Sea Sprite Motel (& Apartments) in Hermosa Beach, CA. It’s taken from the top floor, but I cannot tell which unit. Interestingly enough, the view from the other side of the building would be of the Pacific Ocean.

Fortunately, in the last 25 years I have learned to enjoy the satisfaction of a job completed as reward unto itself.

Another agrees:

Husband: “But if it’s that easy, won’t everyone else guess that too?  You won’t win.”

Me: “Yes, but it’s not about winning, it’s just exciting to get one right!”

A detailed visual walkthrough:

Using the awnings in the midfield of vision, and the blue house with small parking lot, it can be traced back to the second floor of Sea Sprite Motel and Apartments at 1016 The Strand. Because the window doesn’t seem to have a horizontal split, I am going with the window with the vertical split, circled below.


The map view is below showing the hotel, the building with the curved awnings, and Zane’s in the background:


Here is the view from the alley looking at the small parking lot and the tan building in the rear with the darker blue house behind that:


Another rags on LA:

The vague location came to me immediately. It was the general seaside atmospherics – the low cloudy sky of the Los Angeles beach areas that I grew to know years ago when I lived out there. Hunter Thompson once called it “the shitmist,” but I never thought of it that way. That gentle overcast was just a relief from the usual relentless sun.

Another reader looks to Hollywood:

This one might be a gimme for movie and TV buffs, since all kinds of things are shot in Hermosa Beach, given its proximity to LA. John Cusack ate in a diner across the street in Steven King’s 1408 and the Sea Sprite is visible through the windows behind him:


It also starred in a pool party scene from Gilmore Girls:


And, bizarrely, in a scene from Monk set in San Francisco but shot 400 miles to the south and photoshopped into the Bay Area via a digital Bay Bridge:


This is an obvious fraud, since there are only 2-3 days per year one might throw a pool party next to the Bay Bridge. In SF, everyone in that scene would be hypothermic.

And you can’t have LA without pulp:

Marlowe crawled back to consciousness and tried to remember what it was that Zane had told him last night just before somebody put his lights out.  Who was it swung the sap?  Eddie Mars’ boys?  They were waiting for him outside that steakhouse, the one on the corner of Pier and Hermosa Avenues, where he’d dropped in to get the lowdown from the kid (not the one looking for the black bird, the other one). 

The bar there was nice and dim and they poured a decent gimlet, but still Marlowe hadn’t been ready to believe that it could be this easy. “Hell,” he reflected, “that dame didn’t need a private dick.  Type ‘Zane’s California’ in any search engine and she gets the motherload.  It’s Hermosa Beach, not Santa Monica or Hollywood, but this is still Raymond Chandler country: sunburnt stucco and palm trees.” 

It took nothing to retrace steps from the steakhouse to the Sea Sprite Motel at 1016 The Strand and to wait there for the hard guys to make their next move.  “Next time I’ll get a window facing the beach,” he thought.  “The surf’s loud enough, you might as well get to see it.”

Sea Sprite

Another player finally found a way to incorporate a teen soap opera into a contest entry:

Palm trees. California! But WHERE in California?? Oh no!

It’s in times of need just like this that I humbly turn to the “World’s Greatest Compendium of Locations where The O.C. was Filmed“.  And, as always, TWGCOLWTO.C.WF puts the competition to shame. What you need to know about the Sea Sprite Motel at 1016 The Strand, Hermosa Beach, CA:

  • A cheap motel where pornographer Lance Baldwin stays.
  • Episode 16 (of season 2), when Sandy Cohen goes to the blackmailer Lance’s apartment to try to negotiate the ransom for the porno tape which Julie made when she was young. We see it again later when, after Julie has confessed her sordid past to Caleb, Caleb also goes to Lance’s apartment at the Sea Sprite motel and shows him the extortion money. But after getting his hands on the tape, Caleb double-crosses Lance, takes back the $500,000 cash, and has two thugs beat Lance up.

I have no idea what room, but let’s say … 12, because my research indicates that’s where all the shit went down:


And I choose to believe that our photo submitter was this guy:


Readers truly went to extraordinary lengths to distinguish themselves this week:

Since you will undoubtedly have lots of correct answers, I better up my game, here’s more info:

Trivia: Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente and Mose Allison stayed there, as did Ice Capades performers.

Personal Connection: I’ve now spoken to the 7185647desk clerk on the phone, as I called the hotel to ask for the room number of my guess. Sounds like quite a few Dishheads are calling and even stopping by to scout it out! End unit is #17, my guess is #16, he said some folks were guessing #15. Pretty certain the right answer is the window I indicated in my original post which I now know is in room #16.

Given the apparent on-site investigations, I expect the winner will provide at least one of the following: (a) a picture of themselves at the window posing with the motel’s owner and/or (b) a DJI drone video fly-through out the window showing the view, circling over the hotel for some areal footage, ending with a stunning sunset shot over Hermosa Beach (roll credits).

Another shares a story from their eventful stay at the Sea Sprite:

My wife and three young kids stayed at the Sea Sprite for July 4th in 1998. We had just moved to California and wanted to see the fireworks (and we did not drive on the Jewish sabbath, thus the need for a local hotel – as well as local parking).  We did not realize that the Strand in Hermosa Beach was a central vortex for 20-somethings gone wild.  We survived the interesting cultural experience, and my wife’s car survived the partying that occurred in the parking lot and everywhere else.

The problem surfaced when we drove just a few short miles home.  Our other car was stolen off our street in Redondo Beach.  So I called the Redondo Beach police and told them that my car was stolen.  The officer replied, “Why do you think that your car was stolen?” I replied, “I went to where it was parked, and it is no longer there!”  Without missing a beat, he replied, “In the police business, that is what we call a clue.”

Turns out, it was just taken for a joy ride. About ten days later, as another Redondo Beach police officer was writing a second ticket for illegal parking, they gave me a call and said if I could pick it up in the next 20 minutes, they would tear up the tickets. And so it was.

A visual entry:

Zane's Restaurant - Google Maps 2014-09-07 23-55-10 2014-09-07 23-56-05

There’s also a good jazz scene in town:

The VFYW this week looked immediately familiar, as this is an area I have spent a lot of time visiting over the years. As a certifiable jazz nut, I have spent a lot of time just down the block at the famous Lighthouse Cafe, arguably the home and birthplace for the type of “cool” jazz that defined the “West Coast” jazz as opposed to the hard bop made famous in New York and locales further east. While the Lighthouse is now a venue for a wide range of musical styles, it was made most famous during the 60s and later years as a fantastic venue to hear the very best West Coast jazz musicians:

Another reader:

I finally know what Chini must feel like. This was a five-minute window, and it only took five minutes because I was working out which of the windows it must have been taken from. In fact, my nine year old took one look and told me to start looking in California. I found myself frustrated that it wasn’t more difficult, seeing as how I planned to devote a full day to the search. Crazy, eh? I get frustrated when I can’t find it, and frustrated when I do. Madness, this.

And here’s the Chini, the myth, the almost-screwed-up-this-week legend:

VFYW Hermosa Beach Actual Window Marked - Copy

So the only real trick with this one is how you read the store sign at left. If you read it properly, as “Zane’s,” you were a four-second Google search away from finding the right spot. If, like some people I know real well, you looked at it on your iPhone and thought it said “Zone’s” you instead spent a nice chunk of time searching for a business that doesn’t exist. Epic. Chini. Fail. Thankfully, the uber LA-ness of the scene and the Bank of America sign rescued me later on Saturday.

This week’s view comes from Hermosa Beach and looks northeast along a heading of 38.99 degrees from the second floor of the Sea Sprite Motel, most likely room 16. As an aside, kudos to your viewer for picking a motel straight out of my Jersey Shore childhood. Most Dish readers stay at posh hotels and fancy B&B’s. Nice to see someone kicking it old school for once.

A tie-breaking idea:

Since this week’s contest features such an easy clue, I think the winner should be the person who guesses nearest to the number of correct entries. 162!

More than twice that actually. In fact, here is a relatively accurate pie chart for this week’s guesses:

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 12.10.26 PM

And as is usually the case in an incredibly easy contest like this one, our winner comes from our prestigious list of winless guessers of difficult contests from the past:

Sea Sprite Motel, back of the building, second floor looking northeast, second room from the south end of the building. Got it from the Zane’s restaurant sign, which I mistook for Zone’s. It’s either room 16 or 17. I’m going with 16 based on the angles.

Congrats! From the reader who submitted the view:

Looking east from the third floor bathroom window of room 16, Sea Sprite Motel, Hermosa Beach, California. Here’s another view from the motel:

View from a window

Lastly, a reader figures out our dastardly plan:

So, I’ve never entered a VFYW contest before, because I never really had any clue how to start. I always counted myself lucky if I guessed the right continent. And since I figured this out, I’m sure virtually everyone did. But now you’ve got me hooked. There go my Saturdays.

See you then! Until then, see if you can spot your entry in this comprehensive collage:


(Archive: Text|Gallery)

The View From Your Window Contest

by Dish Staff


You have until noon on Tuesday to guess it. City and/or state first, then country. Please put the location in the subject heading, along with any description within the email. If no one guesses the exact location, proximity counts.  Be sure to email entries to Winner gets a free The View From Your Window book or two free gift subscriptions to the Dish. So have at it, and just be happy you don’t have to compete against these guys:

Browse our previous window view contests here.

The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #220

by Chas Danner & Chris Bodenner


A reader sees the Far East:

Aberdeen Fishing Village, Southern edge of Hong Kong Island, China.

A much more detailed entry:

My guess is that this a view of the Mediterranean coast of Peniscola, Spain. Several factors lead me to draw this conclusion. The piece of land appears to be a peninsula because part of it juts out farther than the rest, creating two inlets of water. The water is almost certainly the salt-water ocean, as indicated by the crashing waves and decreasing water level on the shoreline. The leaves of the trees in the center and top left corner of the image suggest there are palm trees, which do, in fact, grow in Peniscola.

Peniscola has a peninsula and the Serra D’Irta mountain range behind it. The intense blue of the water and golden color of the sand in the image very closely resemble the colors of the coast of where the Mediterranean Sea borders Spain. The architecture of the buildings along the coast – the salmon colored rooftops and white stone – are also extremely similar in appearance to images of buildings on the coast of Peniscola. In comparing an image of the Peniscola peninsula to this view, the architectural style of buildings, mountain range, and vegetation including palm trees in the two photographs appear to be very similar. One difference, however, is that the view from the window has more vegetation such as heavy tree growth and fewer houses. I believe the photographs were taken from different angles and in different points along the coast. The view from the window is more distant from the main hub of houses, possibly closer to the mountains and more isolated.​

Another finds a loophole:

You’ve ruined every one of my Saturdays for over a year now with your obscure locales, wild goose chases and Google Street View shenanigans.  But finally, I can say with absolute certainty where this photo is located – my balcony:

View from your window

Yee-haw, gimme my book.

Another reader is thinking the south of France:

I took one look at that picture and the words from a song in the early-1960s British Musical Stop The World – I Want To Get Off popped from my lips:

Give me half a chance
In the South of France
To make my pitch
And I’ll be dirty, rotten, stinkin’ filthy rich.

Of course I’m probably whole continents off from where this actually is, but now I should get out the vinyl and listen to the original cast recording for the first time in decades since it’s going to be going through my head all afternoon anyway.

A whole continent off, sadly. An eagle-eyed player notes an essential clue for amateur hotel reviewers:

Wherever it is, they are automatically going to lose a star on Trip Advisor.  Why can’t building staff take care of all those annoying dead bugs in webs on the outside of the windows?

Another finds the view within:

Green mountains, white beaches, palm trees … I’ve never been there but this is how I imagine the Caribbean Sea.

Wrong coast. Another try:

Catalina Island, California.

Wrong country, but the following reader nails the right one:

santa cruz huatulco

In April our cruise ship docked at the port of the Pacific beach resort village of Santa Cruz Huatulco, Oaxaca State, Mexico.  The coast line there has several small bays, each with a cluster of resort hotels and condos.  Every thing looks new and fresh and clean, all perfect for the comfort of the turista.  I couldn’t make an exact match from the Google satelite images, but my educated guess is the Huatulco coast.

A few other readers guessed Acapulco, but the following reader remembers the view, even after four decades and the march of Mexico’s progress:

There are some immediate dead giveaways that this view is of the Pacific coast of Mexico: the vaguely Moorish, white-stucco hotel turrets, the white-painted trunks of the palm trees, the golden sand, the nearby mountain range, the banana trees, the little turista-jaunt boats anchored just off shore, and the multiple bays. We are looking at the Tesoro Manzanillo resort in Manzanillo. I have no idea from what window.

But allow me a Dishian digression. In 1970, while on Christmas break from college, I drove with two other girlfriends from San Antonio down the Gulf Coast, stopping in Veracruz and then on through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to Oaxaca. We foolishly scored grass everywhere we went, bought embroidered blouses, got very tan, drank fresa con leche, dallied with cute boys, and endured the rudimentary toilets of Pemex stations all to the soundtrack of the recently released Plastic Ono Band:

Ah, youth. In Oaxaca we asked the locals where we should go on the West Coast that was beautiful but not touristy. “Manzanillo,” they said. Four years later Las Hadas opened, the prototype for all other Moorish-turreted Manzanillan resorts and put the little fishing village on the map. Asi es la vida.

A previous winner notes:

Manzanillo hosts the fleet of Mexico’s Navy Region 6 and the city is home to the only statue of Snoopy outside the United States. Both of which, sadly, are in the opposite direction from this view out of Villa Las Cumbres.

Another reader:

This is the first contest where I recognized the subject of the photo. Years ago my wife and I traveled to the state of Colima, in which Manzanillo is located, to visit her sister. She arranged a two-night stay for us at Las Hadas Resort, also on the Peninsula de Santiago, where we enjoyed very inexpensive accommodations in exchange for sitting through a hard-sell time share “opportunity”! Las Hadas, being the location for the Blake Edwards film “10” which popularized white-girl cornrows, showed that film nightly in the guest rooms.

Meanwhile, Chini figures that many were frustrated by this week’s view:

Between the holiday and US Open tickets I was hoping for a quick hunt this weekend and we got just that. Unfortunately, it probably made some view-hunters miserable. Finding this view is all about using small clues to locate an otherwise generic resort. If you did it right (as I’m guessing a ton of folks did) this one was a near insta-find. But if you misinterpreted them you could spend hours searching Hawaii, Indonesia or the like.

This week’s view comes from the shores of Manzanillo, Mexico:

VFYW Manzanillo Bird's Eye Marked - Copy

The pic was taken next to a potted plant at the top of a staircase in the main hallway of the Villa Las Cambres bed and breakfast and looks north by northwest along a heading of 332.75 degrees over Ascencia harbor.

Another has a pic of that potted plant:

I spent a good amount of time Saturday afternoon scanning the coast of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica. Eventually I gave up on the Caribbean because most of the large resorts didn’t really have fishing boats close in, and there weren’t that many places with mountains that large close to the sea.

I switched my focus to smaller peninsulas along the Pacific coast of Mexico, and a few minutes later found the Santiago Peninsula in Manzanillo, Mexico. We are looking down at the Tesoro Manzanillo resort from a rental house called Villa Las Cumbres. Helpfully, they have a Facebook page with quite a few photos.

Along the top floor (just inside the front door?), there are two large windows:


A view from the street level provides a view through the right window, which is close but too far right.


So that leaves us with the left window. I tried to find a decent exterior view, but the best I could get is a crop of a wide angle Panoramio photo from way, way down on the beach:


This week’s picture was taken by someone standing on the landing, through the window highlighted below. Quick and dirty Photoshop reenactment created with help from Shutterstock:


Good contest – not so hard to find the location, but getting the window was a bit tricky because the geography made street view useless.

This week’s winner was last week’s runner up and another veteran player from our list of long-suffering Correct Guessers:

This week’s picture was taken in Manzanillo, Mexico, from the northwest side of Villa Las Cumbres B&B (43 Avenida de los Riscos). Here is the window, on the 2nd floor:


A tough one, at least for me. It was fairly easy to tell that this was probably some tropical
American country; the obvious clue to follow afterwards was the hotel in Moorish-Mediterranean style in the bottom right corner of the picture, but for some reason it took me nowhere at first. A Tesoro – “treasure”– so is named the resort – a little hard to unearth.

From the view’s submitter, a contest veteran himself:

I was pleasantly surprised to see my window submission show up as this week’s contest. I don’t get to travel much, and when I saw this view I knew it would make a good contest.

Here’s some more detail about the location: The shot was taken from the entry hall of a rental vacation home at Avenida de los Riscos 43, Manzanillo, Mexico. The property is also called Villa Las Cumbres (House of the Summits). Every year, we take a trip with my kids and my brother’s kids to a beach somewhere, usually Oregon, Washington or Texas. We call it the “Cousins’ Trip” and this year we splurged and went out of the country to Manzanillo. I’d never been to the Pacific coast of Mexico before and it was breathtaking. We managed to luck out and find this house that sleeps 10 on AirBnB the day before and the views were spectacular.


Above is a shot of the house from the beach, with the window highlighted. My only regret is that I have to wait until next week to solve a contest.

(Archive: Text|Gallery)

The View From Your Window Contest


You have until noon on Tuesday to guess it. City and/or state first, then country. Please put the location in the subject heading, along with any description within the email. If no one guesses the exact location, proximity counts.  Be sure to email entries to Winner gets a free The View From Your Window book or two free gift subscriptions to the Dish. Have at it.

Browse previous contests here.

The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #219

by Chas Danner


A reader thinks they’ve got it:

Mombasa, Kenya with Fort Jesus in the background.

Another reader:

Being new to this contest, I’d like you to know how much I enjoy reading all the comments that folks include. So much is really helpful to new participants like myself, BUT I really love the wisecracking comments and entries of the frustrated. Thank you!!

The View From Your Window Contest, driving readers to throw things our their windows since 2010:

I’ve never been more frustrated with a VFYWC than this week. Why? Because I’ve found this city before while searching for another week’s window, but I can’t for the life of me remember where it is. I can’t remember which window I was looking for when I found it, my cell browser history doesn’t go back more than a month, and I evidently wasn’t signed into Google Earth when I found it. Arrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!  I await the inevitable frustration when you reveal the answer and I immediately remember every detail I’ve been grasping for for the last 72 hours.

That reader will happy to know that he did get the country, but for the sake of suspense, we’ll get to that a little further down. Another:

I hope that’s Dubrovnik! I’ve walked the wall before.

That was the location of our 200th contest actually. They do indeed look similar. Another is thinking South America:

This totally looks like a view of Cuzco, Peru that my cousin sent me last year. Surely the gods would not allow me to so immediately and confidently guess the right view. Still, I will persist with my answer: The flaky-looking barrel tile, the crowding, distant mountain vista and general proximity of the structures to one another smack of the hotel room scene that was sent to me. But, I’m certain that we’ll discover this to be some quaint and distant Italian village whose claim to fame is as a supplier of the purest most virginal olive oil. Before I digress into further sarcasm, I must point out it is indeed a beautiful view, the blueness of the sky is quite captivating. Who knows, I may be within the same latitude, at the very least…

Too far south. Inching up the globe, this player notes an important assortment of clues:

We have a densely built group of brick and adobe buildings, mostly with clay tile roofs, overlooking a mountain valley. It is impossible to know for sure, but I think the flag on the parapet in the center of the upper half of the picture is a green-white-red tricolor, either that of Italy or Mexico. Either country works with these buildings and landscape. I’ve managed to stare at the flag long enough to convince myself there is something on the white stripe, so I’m going to say Mexico.

There appears to yellow lichen (Xanthoria parietina) on some of the roofs which grows…basically all over the world, but seems to favor coastal areas. So, mountains, valley, near the coast, in Mexico. In other words, just about anywhere in Mexico. The yellow color of a couple of the buildings reminds me of Oaxaca, but I don’t think that is it. The older parts of that city are in a valley, not overlooking it. (The worst part about this challenge for me is that every time I type the name of a Mexican town into Google image search, I get pictures of food. You guys are killing me!) Once again, I am reasonably confident as to region, but I know when I’m beat. Plus I’m thinking it may be Italy after all. Blind guess in (vain) hope of proximity: Taxco, Mexico, because it is on a hillside and the tile roofs seem especially popular there.

Many readers correctly identified the lichen this week. Another gets us closer:

I dunno, but there’s something about that fortress in the background that reminds me of some of the towns you see near the Bosphorus, somewhere between Istanbul and the Black Sea. Is that specific enough for you? Yeah, thought not.

Continuing to circle in:

Definitely Mediterranean, but contests have recently featured Spain, southern France, Baleric Islands, Greece. There’s a nice view of water & mountains behind a castle turret. I’m just throwing a dart at the board and guessing Tunis, Tunisia.

Another was thinking Spain (again), but gave up when she instead “chose to spend [her] indoor time this weekend binging on the good-years episodes of the Simpsons marathon on FXX.  D’oh!” Speaking of mysteries, a few years ago Matt Groening finally revealed the actual location that inspired Springfield. Meanwhile, this homer gets the country:

A village somewhere in Tuscany. I know the turrets one sees is a clue but I’m not sure what the ancient influence is. I’m guessing it’s a village somewhere in Tuscany, Italy.

Nice job, a Tuscan hill town indeed. Which one? This week’s very first entrant guessed right:

The lichen-stained clay roof tiles, the brick-and-stone architecture, and the gentle hills in the distance (love that deep blue color the mountain has) remind me of the touristy town of Siena, south of Florence. Plus, although the flags, hanging from poles on the two crenellated towers to the left and the center of the photo, are both limp (no wind…grr) I can make out faint red, white, and green stripes, with the red band hanging furthest to the ground—as it should as the red band goes on the right (away from the pole) if you fly it correctly.

This previous winner nails the exact location and window:


This week, we are in Siena, Italy, just a couple of blocks from the View From Your Window that you ran last summer. Unlike that unmistakable view, the submitter carefully framed the contest picture to avoid including the famous Mangia Tower to the left, leaving only some of the Palazzo Pubblico‘s merlons visible.  While the view screams Tuscany, those merlons were the clue I used to find this week’s window.  This photo from the hotel’s website and another from a travel website confirmed the location.   The contest window is in one of the apartment rooms at the I Terizi di Siena at Via dei Termini 13.  Although I could not find a room number, it is a south facing room on the fifth floor.

Bit of the Palazzo Pubblico

No heatmap this week as the vast majority of contestants got the town and window. And this one used a unique clue:

siena air conditioner

My initial reaction was that it wouldn’t be easy unless I got lucky. I got lucky. After searching for mossy terracotta and getting several Tuscany hits, I found the air conditioner shown on the next building appeared to be an Italian product. A search for “Tuscany fort village” led to the attached image of the Il Campo medieval piazza that can be seen from the opposite direction in the “view.”

siena il campo

This reader nailed the flags on the tower in the background as well:


The flag of Tuscany and the city flag of Siena.

A first-time reader and player chimes in:


I was using Google Image Search for keywords different keywords like “Italy”, “striped“, “wall”, “armament”, “merlon”, “tower”, “rooftops”, until I finally found the right sillhouette of the Palazzo Pubblico at Piazza del Campo. From there I used Google Earth and panned around until I found the right combination of roofs, chimneys, towers and the glass skylight, that is in the window. Hope my guess is right. First time I am taking part here, found VFYW Contest linked in this Der Spiegel report.

Glad to have you! Around 25K new visitors have checked out the contest thanks to that link. And we’ll have a post up on the amazing Bellingcat effort soon. (Update: here it is.) Moving on, many Dish readers have apparently been to Siena:

This image brings back that magnificent smell of wood-burning fires filling the air.  Walking the streets of Montepulciano looked like an ancient city, but smelled like camping.  It was the most delightful and unexpected surprise during my trip to Italy.

And love the dining:

I had one of my most memorable meals ever in Siena, right on the Piazza del Campo at sunset. Cinghiale in umido con polenta, a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino and cantuccini with Vin Santo for dessert. Fu meraviglioso!

And the influence on New England architecture:

I hope the photographer had a lovely time in Siena and climbed the Torre del Mangia, the tall bell tower at the Palazzo Pubblico. In a neat coincidence, Wikipedia says the bell tower was used as a model for Waterbury Union Station in Waterbury, Connecticut, site of one of last month’s VFYW contests.


VFYWSiena copy.001

Ah, Siena! Hard to miss, with the famous Torre del Mangia just out of view but the false parapets giving away the Palazzo Pubblico. The Palazzo looks down on the stunning Campo, home of the crazy Palio horse race, last held only 10 days ago (was a VFYW reader in town for the Palio?)  Just to right of center, prominent on the horizen is the tower of the Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, now home to the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, an international centre for advanced musical studies. Nice gig if you can get it. Just out of view to the right lies the famous Cathedral of Siena.

That’s exactly when and why our submitter was there. More on the race:

Siena is a great town, incredibly overcrowded during the horse races which are held in the town square.  IIRC they are done bare-back so are quite challenging for the jockeys.  The bragging rights if your contrada (city section?) wins the race are hard to imagine for an outsider but very real for those involved. In the Spring and Fall when the mobs have left it is a lovely town to tour, amazing old architecture, wonderful restaurants. Thanks again for these wonderful chances to renew old memories (and more often to explore new worlds).

Another advises that one of their “best travel experiences so far is going to the winning contrada house after the Palio for the most amazingly hospitable and electrified party of the year; and don’t bring any money, it will just upset the hosts.” One more reader’s process:


After a failed search of nearby hill towns such as Pienza and Montalcino, I cast my net further to the northwest (the only direction from which Monte Amiata has this profile) and happened upon Siena. Voila, I instantly saw a match with the corner feature of Siena’s famous Palazzo Pubblico. From there, I drew a line from Monte Amiata to the corner of the Palazzo Pubblico and looked for Hotels or B&B’s. Pretty quickly I converged on I Terzi di Siena.


Chini approves:

VFYW Siena Bird's Eye Marked - Copy

An easy view, for sure, but one that brings back nice memories. My junior year in college I studied in Florence and our program had us take day trips to just about every town in Tuscany. Lucca, San Gimignano, Pisa, Arezzo, pretty much all of them, and each more amazing than the last. So despite being 4,000 miles from the NYC, this week’s location is one of the few that I’ve been to, having sprawled out below your viewer’s window in the piazza as we ate lunch. Unfortunately, we were there in the fall so we didn’t get to see the Palio, but I’m betting your viewer just did…

VFYW Siena Actual Window 4 - Copy

This week’s view comes from Siena, Italy and looks almost due south along a heading of 170.1 degrees. The iconic torre del mangia is just out of frame on the left and the piazza itself is hidden by a steep drop and the buildings in the foreground. The picture was taken from the Camera Romana (Roman room) on the fifth floor of a bed and breakfast called i Terzi di Siena.

This week’s winner, a 12-contest veteran, comes from our vaunted list of previously correct guessers of difficult views:


Tougher this week. Learned a bit about mediterranean roof tiles to get me started and settled on Italy. After browsing photos of old towers in Italy, I came across the Palazzo Pubblico, which had the distinctive crenels in the upper left of the photo. Couldn’t get the view though until I came home from work and fired up Google Earth, which pegged the spot pretty quickly. The tower in the center right is the Fondazione Accademia Musicale Chigiana – Onlus, and just out of view is the Siena Cathedral, which otherwise dominates the skyline. The view is looking south from what appears to be Via Dei Termini, 17. See above for the window.

Congrats on the win! From the view’s original submitter:

VFYW - Siena - Location on map

The image was taken in Siena, Italy the day after “Il Palio di Siena,” aka “the most dangerous horse race in the world.” It is a view looking southward from this address: Vie Dei Termini, 13 Siena, Italy. I was staying on the the fifth floor and had a view westward, which had an obstructed view of a busy street, and a view southward (towards Piazza del Campo), which was straight from my bed. I much preferred the southward view!  The best giveaway is the flag in the distance to the left. It is hard to see but is white and black, which denotes Siena itself.

VFWY - more details

Update: Had some technical (Time Warner Cable) difficulties today, but still wanted to guess-collage many of the wonderful visuals we got from contestants this week:


(Archive: Text|Gallery)


The View From Your Window Contest

by Dish Staff


You have until noon on Tuesday to guess it. City and/or state first, then country. Please put the location in the subject heading, along with any description within the email. If no one guesses the exact location, proximity counts.  Be sure to email entries to Winner gets a free The View From Your Window book or two free gift subscriptions to the Dish. Have at it!

Previous contests here.

The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #218

by Chas Danner


Only one reader correctly guessed this week’s view:

Way too easy. Come on, at least make us work for it. Its’s clearly New York City, NY, USA.

Another is packing his bags:

I don’t care where it is, but I could live there!

Another elaborates:

If every human being could spend two weeks annually at such a place, workplace violence and domestic abuse would disappear.

A confident guess:

Obviously, this is a rare, full daylight view of Lamplight Village, so often painted by Thomas Kinkade, The Painter of Light:


And available for just three installments of $16.66 (that includes a free, light-painting Thomas Kinkade action figure). Another has a less sentimental guess:

Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Because of reasons.

Or perhaps the UK?

This is a straight-up stumper. No (readable) signs, no cars, no people. no livestock. Six buildings partially visible, and a paved road running through, in some very lovely mountains. Let’s start with the mountains: those could be the Rockies (or other range in western North America), the Alps, the Andes, or somewhere odd like Japan or New Zealand. The sun looks to be more or less directly overhead, so let’s eliminate the southern hemisphere.

My first impulse was Switzerland, but the houses don’t look typically Swiss. My next impulse was Scotland. That feels closer.

If anyone is going to actually decode this (i.e., if anyone is going to get it without having been here on vacation and recognizing it) my guess is that they are going to figure outyellow-box what is up with that yellow box on the side of the building in the foreground that looks like a hand soap dispenser. I am not going to be that person.

So for the sake of keeping my resolution and my sanity I’m going to throw a virtual dart at a map of the Scottish Highlands and say… Fort Augustus, Scotland. Hoping for proximity…


I’m really looking forward to finding out how the winner deduced this, because I haven’t a clue. We have that funny yellow box on the side of the foreground building, but after much googling I still have no idea what it is. Perhaps the style of the sign on the road evokes something for someone, but not for me. Perhaps the combination of the old stone construction, the slate roofs, the solid shutters, and the mountainous setting all add together in a unique way for someone out there, but not for me. Or perhaps the trees make it clear. The best I can get is somewhere in Europe.

Well you’re right about Europe. Another:

I think those who wanted a difficult contest got there wish. Just because I want to make a guess, I’m saying Rottenturm, Switzerland because it looks like it could be somewhere in Europe and that’s where my grandmother was born and lived until she was eighteen and fled Europe for the United States. The look of the buildings and the slopes behind them are how I imagine that town must look.

This reader better watch out for Uncle Sam:

That is almost certainly where I do my secret banking in Switzerland. I’m not allowed to be more specific.

Another Dish-informed contestant gets closer:

La Mare-aux-Geais, France. Looks like a hameau. Now where did I recently read the word hameau? Oh yes, in the Dish post about La Mort Aux Juifs. The description of the hameau in that post is two houses and one farm. So that is my guess.

This reader gets really close:

The landscape combined with the slate roof, stone buildings, and dormer windows is a good fit for the Pyrenees.  But this is a really tough one to narrow down further.  There are a million little towns and villages in the French and Spanish Pyrenees, and there’s not really a good way to explore them all.  I’ve officially given up and will randomly pick the French town of Fos.  I’m anxious to see how the winner(s) this week will identify the exact spot.  Grit, determination, and many hours of browsing google earth?  ESP?  What will the secret be?

The Pyrenees it is, and the French side was the most popular incorrect guess this week. This reader gets in the right country, only the wrong part of that country:

I know this is probably somewhere in southern Germany/the Alps but those slate-shingled roofs, the mountains, and the green foliage remind me of the tiny sub-region of “O Bierzo,” the far western corner of the province of León in Spain, just east of the region of Galicia (in fact, they speak the Galician language there, too). Slate-shingled roofs are very common in O Bierzo as well as in neighboring Lugo province, but clay shingles are the norm nearly everywhere else in the country.

Alas, the only players to nail this week’s exact town in Spain were previous winners. For instance, a neuroscientist:


This one was fun. At first the general alpine-ness suggested the Alps, but poking around there didn’t turn up the right mix of architectural features. Cycling fans know that if it’s not the Alps then it’s the Pyrenees, so off to the Franco-Spanish border. The ridgeline matched one outside Vielha, Spain, just a stone’s throw from the French border and familiar to obsessive cycling fans who remember it as the teams’ home base before last Tour de France stage 16.


From there, it was a process of roof-matching in Street View to ID the right structure among so many pretty buildings. The rushing stream in the picture is a great hint. Based on sight-lines, I think the window must be the southern-most one on the top floor at 52 Carrèr Major:


Amazing. Contest #164 was from another part of the Spanish Pyrenees as well. And here’s the winner of Contest #166:

This was the most difficult contest in quite a while.

View from about the same spot

This week we are in the Spanish Pyrenees in the town of Vielha. For the building appears to be named Nere and the closest address on I could find is 54 Carrèr Major, 25530 Vielha, Lleida, Spain.


On the second floor of the building, there are two large windows that open onto small balconies. I believe the contest window is the one on the left when facing the building (i.e. the one further south). The window is in the box in the attached picture. I also attach one street view picture showing a snowy version of the same scene, but just from one floor down. And for good measure attached is a third picture taken from the parallel street across the Arriu Nere showing the building with the contest window and two of the buildings in the contest picture.

Alt view

Rest assured, the more the difficult the contest, the happier Grand-Champ-Chini gets:

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about. After a tough few days I needed a good view to hunt and this one made up beautifully for Dish Editor Chris Bodenner’s maddening eephus pitch from last week.

VFYW Vielha Bird's Eye Marked - Copy

The lack of landmarks means that we’ve got a classic “hard” view on our hands, but its proximity to Spain’s biggest ski resort makes me think that there’ll still be a decent number of responses. Eight correct answers, perhaps?

VFYW Vielha Actual Window Marked - Copy

This week’s view comes from Vielha, Spain in the Val D’Aran just a few miles south of the French border. The picture was taken from a sliding living room door on the second physical floor of the Casa Mijaran rental apartments (most likely Mijaran #1) located at 54-52 Carrer Major and looks east-north-east along a heading of 71.37 degrees over the banks of the River Nere, a tributary of the Garonne River. I’ve also attached a picture from the interior showing the likely spot where your viewer was standing.

VFYW Vielha Interior View Casa Mijaran 1 - Copy

Lest any regular players get too intimidated, this week’s winner was off by only 7.1km:

A really difficult one this week! I am pretty certain it is on the Pyrenees, given the terrain and the architecture, but finding the exact mountain village with the scant clues present in the picture is beyond me. Just for fun I am going to guess Arties, Spain, though I’d be flabbergasted if I turn out to be right.

Flabbergast away. Nice job.

This week’s view actually came from friend-of-the-Dish Jonathan Cohn:


It’s from an apartment in Vielha, Spain, where we spent a week in July. Vielha is in the Pyrenees in Catalonia and near the French border.

View from Window - 1

The photo will be tough, I think, but there are mountains and a bell tower in the center of town which are both visible in the shot. There’s also a creek/small river in one of them. That could help too.

We’ll do an easier view for next week. If you’d like to try and find out where, we’ll see you on Saturday.

(Archive: Text|Gallery)