The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #70


More than 400 entries for this week's contest, one of our most popular yet. A reader writes:

Okay, so I think that this VFYW is from Paris, in the far west of the city, along the Boulevards des Marechaux by the Square Alexandre et Rene Parodi, just down from the Place de la Porte Mailot. But that's a pretty random guess.

Another writes:

I am guessing this is somewhere around Parc de Ville, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. My first impression is that this is in Europe and the architecture looks French. It is continental Europe because they are driving on the right side of the road.  Based on the cars parked on the street, it is a fairly wealthy country.  The license plates resemble Luxembourg's.  I was unable to find a matching location after a brief search on Google maps so I am going for somewhere around the Parc de Ville.  


This looks like a photo taken near the Warandepark (Park of Brussels) near the the Royal Palace.  The U.S. Embassy and many other large embassies are located near here, so I'll say this is shot taken somewhere on Place des Palais (Paleizenplein). I spent a day in Brussels this past summer on my way in back-and-forth between Paris and Brussels.  The highlight of the trip was a day in Ypres, where four large battles during WWI were fought.  I found the Belgians super friendly, almost the anti-French.  Seeing Menin Gate, where 50,000 some odd names of the missing are etched in stone, is moving. 


For the first time I had the feeling I knew the location as soon as I caught a glimpse of the photo: The Circus in Bath, England. I even knew I had once taken a photo there:


But then logic took over. No, the English cars drive (and park) the other way around. In addition, Bath had paved The Circus – no cobblestones anymore. No bushes and parking at the centre of the Cirucs. Bummer. Sorry, no idea. Must be a country where people drive on the right side of the road. Maybe the Channel Islands or Normandy. But I have to stop procrastinating now.


This is the outer circle road south of Regent's Park in London. If I'm thinking right it's the southwest corner on the other side of the boating lake. If you took that street to the right it would take you down to Baker Street tube station. I did a semester at Regent's College, in the park itself, and used to walk that road every day to the Underground.


I've enjoyed traveling the world through VFYW, which also happens to be my favorite mental health break at the office.

This is my first attempt at trying to guess the location. I think this location is in Glasgow, Scotland, a beautiful city that I visited this summer. The yellow license plates, the steering wheel on the "wrong-right" side on the black car, and the "sandstone" type building construction; all reminds me of Glasgow. This location does not look far from the Kelvin grove museum, somewhere between Sauchiehall and Great Western roads near the University of Glasgow.

Correct country. Another:

It's in one of the many loops of Edinburgh's New Town.  I was just there for a vacation with my wife, and we stayed about a half mile away.  I confirmed it with the taller tree in the middle of the frame, which you can find on Google Maps and the interesting street lamp.  I'd try to find the exact window, but I just got off work at Kandahar Air Field, and I'm exhausted.  I work with a couple Scots, and I'll be sure to show them tomorrow.


Clever photo!  It's on a circular street with a park in the middle. So you drive yourself mad walking in circles trying to find the exact spot of the photo.  Well I think I got it: 12 Moray Place.  First window on the right (when facing the building).


In case you haven't been told already: Moray is pronounced "Murry".  And the side street in your picture is Doune Terrace, which is named for the Moray family seat in Doune.


Normally I don't stand a chance at this contest, but this week, you chose a view that couldn't be easier for me.  Although I live in the US now, I studied architecture at the University of Edinburgh, and the view is clearly of Moray Place, in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town. 


What's most amazing – apart from the fact that I immediately recognised the town and the rough location – is that the same two cars were parked outside when I checked the address in Google Street View. 



Please accept my apologies for the terseness of my earlier, rushed email.  Please find attached an image indicating the window from which I think the photo was taken.  The photo immediately reminded me of Edinburgh.  I was there years ago as a student on summer vacation.  Somehow I got invited to a university graduation party and I came across perhaps this very road while stumbling drunk back to my B&B.  I remember the spot well as I had the need to jump the fence to relieve myself amongst the trees.


This is 12 Moray Place in Edinburgh, Scotland, a country I was proud to call my home for almost two years of my life.  I have written to you before about the adventurous course my life has taken since I was forced to make the difficult choice between living with the Scottish woman who is the love of my life or staying in America, my former home, which does not let me and others like me in same-sex binational couples sponsor our partners for immigration.  I chose to leave America, where my professional training as a doctor is recognized, and moved to Scotland so that I could share my life with the one I love.  

I spent one year studying for a masters degree at the University of Edinburgh, and I walked or drove on this street on many occasions!  After completing my degree, I worked briefly as a locums (part-time) trainee doctor in Scotland, but it was hard because in order to remain in the UK, I would have had to re-train for years to achieve the fully qualified status I had obtained years earlier in the US. While I miss Scotland terribly, I am happy to say that my partner and I are now living in Canada, one of the only countries that recognizes both our relationship and my professional training! What's more, because her family is in Scotland, I will still have the great pleasure of visiting there for many years to come!


I don't have many solid reasons why I should win a tie-break; actually, this is my first time entering. But, in case coincidence counts for anything, I am Andrew's younger, straighter doppelgänger: Studying at Harvard, undergrad at Oxford, and grew up in East Grinstead – well, Forest Row, but what's a couple of miles of Ashdown Forest between friends?


I initially thought the photo was taken somewhere in the UK.  Then I remembered the color of the buildings from my visit to Edinburgh thirty years ago.  Sure enough, with a little looking and a little luck, I stumbled upon Moray Place.  With some further Google Earth help, I identified the building – the only one in that part of Moray Place with a split window that seemed obvious from the photo. By the way, there is also an oil painting entitled, "12. Moray Place" by Peter Brown:



This street in Edinburgh is quite the hidden jewel, hidden jasp, might I say. It was the great 15th century Scots poet Robert Henryson, who, though he was in his time associated with the University at Glasgow, has a substantial body of his surviving works archived at the University at Edinburgh. He made this memorable rendition of the fable of the Cock and the Jewel into Middle Scots:

O gentill iasp o rich & nobill thing, thowch I the fynd,
thow ganyss nocht for me;
thow art a iowell for a lord or king;
it wer pite thow suld in this myddyng
be beriit thus amang this muk & mold
and thow so fair & worth so mekill gold

I fancy myself plucking a jasp of a coffee table book out of the dungheap of Google Maps, where I have spent my not so mickle free time this weekend.


Shallow Grave! That's what I first thought of when I saw this picture. The opening scene of the Danny Boyle movie Shallow Grave has the camera flying through streets that look quite similar to this. The movie was filmed in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, and I had a brief sidetrack looking at Glasgow.


In 1987 I was an 18-year-old guy who moved to Glasgow to go to to the University. I had to get as far away from my family and the Deep South as I could. While there I met and had a little fling with a young student at the University of Edinburgh. He had come to a debate at the Glasgow University Union one evening, where I met him, and then I made the trip over to Edinburgh (a cheap train ticket at the time) to see him in Edinburgh a few times. I think his name was Chris. It was so many years ago and the whole thing only lasted two or three weeks. It was all very exciting and scary at the same time because it was my first time to actually see someone and not just hookup and then flee. Anyway, he lived near this circle of Georgian buildings in Edinburgh. When I first saw the picture I thought it was Park Circus in Glasgow, at the top of Kelvingrove Park, where I lived at the time. But this picture isn't from Glasgow. Google street view convinced me it wasn't Park Circus. And then I remembered Chris (?) and his flat in Edinburgh. That was it. This is Moray Place. I moved home at the end of that year and enrolled in a boring state university in the US, a decision I've regretted ever since. It was an amazing time and an amazing place, though. I wonder what ever became of him. 


I think this is Moray Place in Edinburgh. I recognized it because when I was there for the theatre festival years ago, there was a cruisy park near there. Lots of guys playing around in the dark late at night. The festival brings artists and theater lovers from all over the world, and it was like the United Nations of group sex out there when the bars closed.


Some close friends of mine (before decamping to the countryside to raise children) lived on this street, on the other side of the gardens visible in the left of the original image, so lots of good times had there. The gardens are private, and residents pay a nominal fee to get a key; I remember prepping lots of home baking for an open-gate garden party one time, as well as many furtive late-night excursions for a smoke. I live in Leith, which anyone familiar with Edinburgh will confirm is significantly less well-heeled than the New Town address shown here. But you well know that you get your readers from all over!

On to the exact location:

I've been a huge fan of the VFYW contest from the beginning, and reading the results has always brought some cheer and worldliness to my Tuesday lunchtime. But never before have I had any luck in guessing (as I think I have this week). I can only assume that this week's contest was incredibly easy, and that you will have an onslaught of correct guesses!

When I saw you post this week's entry, I thought immediately of the distinctive Georgian architecture of the UK's crescents and squares. Searching London and Bath via Google Maps yielded nothing that seemed like a good fit, but a Google image search led me to an apartment rental posting in Edinburgh advertising that city's unique concentration of Georgian architecture. Google Maps then led me to Moray Place, which seemed to have the right geometry:

Aerial view

The foreground sidewalk geometry suggests that the building from which the photo was taken is on an inside corner, narrowing it down to the ground floor of #11 or #12 Moray Place. The proximity to the lamppost suggests that it is taken from the rightmost window. Only #12 has a vertical mullion down the center of the window, making it the likely candidate. 

So so close. From the submitter of the photo:

The address is 11 Moray Place, in the New Town area of Edinburgh, Scotland. It was taken from the ground floor, with the camera pointing due west, across the northern part of the circle of Moray Place. On the right you can see the junction with Doune Terrace. On the image below it's the window just to the left of the green door (entrance to no. 10), so I suppose that people might also guess 10 Moray Place. A friend used to live in this apartment, which is in a great location in the centre of the city, so when visiting home (I'm an expat Scot living in Belgium) we used to abuse his hospitality quite a bit. He's since moved out and is on a 7-month meander through Latin America, last spotted in the Chiapas region of Mexico.

About a dozen readers correctly answered 11 Moray, including two previous contest winners, but only one got a difficult window from a previous contest without securing a book yet:

Taken from 11 Moray Place, looking west around the circle, from the second window to the right of the door in the picture below. The B&B there looks to be lovely. I’ve never been to Edinburgh, and can’t tell any gripping stories about it, but there were surprisingly few circles in Britain with cobblestones, this parking pattern, and this style of architecture.  Google Earth scans of London, Brighton, and Bath came up empty, and Edinburgh was next on the list.

Congrats, and thanks to everyone for the great emails – we make a point to read all of them. One more excellent entry:

I got a nice thrill when I scrolled down to see this week’s VFYW – finally, somewhere I recognise! How could I not? Edinburgh is my home town, and this photo made me realise how much I miss the beauty and the grandeur of the place, now that I live elsewhere. Moray Place is a stunning, circular street in Edinburgh’s New Town. It’s possibly my favourite part of Edinburgh, a mix of genteel Georgian charm and stately Scottish style. The area breathes history, from the micro to the macro. If you look closely, you’ll see blocked up windows on the corner house to the right of the vertical window frame, a legacy of the window tax that afflicted Scotland, England and France in the 18th and 19th century (and no, I have no idea what business it is of the government to tax windows, but there you go).

The New Town itself was built to the north of the city’s castle (and Old Town) in the mid 18th century, and was designed by a 26-year old architect named James Craig. It is mostly a simple grid pattern, in contrast to the complicated alleys, wynds, closes and back streets of the Old Town, which straddles the volcanic Castle Rock and by the 1760s had become over crowded and disease-ridden. The rich moved to the New Town, a more fitting backdrop to the Scottish Enlightenment, while the poor stayed in the Old. The Nor Loch between the Old and New Town was drained, and in the 1850s Princes Street Gardens and Waverley railway station were built in its place – Waverley was named after the famous Walter Scott novel, and is the only station in the world to be named after a work of fiction. The Old and New Towns were together designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

I know I sound like I’m employed by the Edinburgh tourist board (honestly, I’m not), but I just love Auld Reekie. I recommend a visit, especially for the huge Scots Diaspora that now resides in the USA; I’m sure plenty of your readers in the USA have a connection to Edinburgh or Scotland. The weather may be wet and cold nearly all the time, but it is a stunning place to live.