A reader writes:
I was disappointed in myself for not being able to pinpoint the location of last week's photo in my hometown of Chicago, so I said I would definitely figure out this week's. Everything about this week's photo screams France. The upside white-with-red-border pedestrian yield sign, the Nivea retail store, the older downtown buildings with no sign of World War II damage, the light rail system, the tall slender fire hydrant, the cars on the American-style sides of the road. But if only I could read the name of the retail store! Either way, I will provide as my submission Strasbourg, France, along the Boulevard de la Victoire.
I'm going to guess that this week's entry is L'viv, Ukraine, somewhere near the center of the city … perhaps off of Freedom Square? I lived in L'viv for six weeks during the summer of 2009, studying Ukrainian at Ivan Franko National University and working on my M.A. thesis, and I spent a lot of time wandering around the city. I don't have much to go on except a gut reaction toward the buildings and the fact that the bit of window I can see reminds me of some of the newer window types I've seen there, but the last time I had a feeling of recognition toward one of the VFYW pictures, it was of Kyiv, Ukraine, and I was correct … but didn't send in my entry. I may be totally off, but at least I won't lose for lack of a submission this time.
There appears to be a DM market on the right-hand side across the street. So that narrows it down to about eight countries in Europe. I didn't see any trams like that in Germany when I was there. I thought maybe Vienna, but the trams I saw on Google's street view didn't match. The buildings look they could be Prague and they do have trams with grass, but I couldn't find this one. But I did see similar markings on the street. So I am going to go with Prague. I consulted my European tram expert and he thought similarly.
Judging by the bike lanes crossing the tram tracks, I'd say there's an excellent chance that this is Rotterdam, or else somewhere in the Netherlands.
This looks a lot like Cottbus, Germany. For some reason I took a vacation there in December of 2010 and this strip looks extremely familiar. It was covered in snow, but looks right. For a random vacation spot, it was absolutely delightful. Even if this isn't the correct answer, I highly recommend anyone looking for an out of the way place to visit, put Cottbus on your list. No tourists, near Dresden and the people were extremely welcoming to two 20-something Americans during the New Years holiday.
The obvious clues in the picture are the distinctly Central European architecture, the city's cleanliness, and the public transit system running parallel to the major street. The other obvious clue is the Nivea storefront on the opposite side of the street. A quick Google search told me that there are only three of these in the world – in Berlin, Hamburg, and Dubai. Dubai's out, for obvious reasons. Google maps quickly told me that Hamburg was also not correct. The map and street view of Berlin looks similar but not exact. (I'm hoping the dissimilarity between the picture and Google Map's street view of Unter den Linden in Berlin can be chalked up to an old street view picture and recent construction on the light rail line, the street, and some of the buildings' architecture.)
I'm guessing that the photo was taken in Pozna?, Poland. The only clue that I could latch onto was the blue Nivea sign. It was curious, because I've never seen a Nivea store before. Google maps told me that there are only four places in the world with Nivea stores – Berlin, Hamburg, Poznan and Tres Cantos, Spain. Google's street view made it seem like it wasn't either of the two German cities, since the Nivea stores would be much larger there. There was no street view for Poznan, but the images of the Polish town's city square, like the following:
… made it seem like the architecture may match with the long windows and the balconies. I couldn't really get any further than that – the boxed trees was a tantalizing clue that lead nowhere. It's possible that there are other, smaller, Nivea stores in Germany that just aren't on Google map's radar, but I suspect that the photo was taken from Poland.
Another nails the right city in Europe:
It took me so long to find this Nivea shop. I probably found all the other Nivea shops in Europe before I got this one. Did you know that Nivea occasionally opens pop-up stores in different European cities, which means there are even more locations to check? Anyway, this Nivea shop is in Budapest, Hungary, and the photo was taken across the street from the K9 Residence on Károly körút 9.
Dozens of readers got that correct address, making it one of the easiest contests in a long time. One writes:
Greetings from Germany. The unique blend of German Jugendstil and Belgian Art Nouveau architecture reminded me of eastern Europe, not to mention the mix of old and new buildings. The picture was most likely taken from the hotel "K9 Residence" in Budapest. It is located on the Small Boulevard (or Kiskörút) in downtown Budapest, just a few minutes walking distance from the Déak metro station, which is the central hub for the three metro lines in Budapest. Judging from the angle the picture was taken from, my guess would be the 2nd floor:
There is a photo at TripAdvisor taken from virtually the same angle. I’m sure others have gotten this already, but I’m so psyched that I finally got one!
I was just in Budapest this summer and passed right by this place! I can't even believe it, I usually can't get anything right (and sadly just skip over the photos after giving them a cursory glance).
A search of Google Images for "nivea store europe" turns up this image, which quickly leads to this one, which appears to be taken from almost the same spot as the VFYW.
Based on photos from the residence's website, I'm guessing that the photo was taken from the "studio apartment in K9" in "Image 1 of 5", the one with the yellow window curtains.
The street appears to have been redone since they took the overhead views on Google Maps and there are no available street-view pictures, so I don't have one to insert. I suspect that this is going to be relatively easy given the fact that a picture of the store appeared on Flickr, but I suggest going to this page, where a VFYW competitor is looking for a clue and another tells him off – hilarious.
Another sends a street-view picture:
Taken from the K9 Residence at Karoly Korut 9 in Budapest Hungary. For the first time I decided to try one of these, and it turned kind of boring quickly. I even got my wife to join in. We were thinking Germany based on the Nivea and identified DM drugstore logo on the corner. But then we did the obvious thing of throwing the image into image-based search (is this against the rules?). I was actually hoping to identify the red signed store. But instead up came the image from someone's personal travel blog.
As an aside, my wife was reading all morning when I invited her to join me on my first contest search. She goes to your blog and sees the headline "Is Reading Anti-Social?" and then glared at me.
Another visual submission:
I was really excited that I figured this one out, but then I realized the significance of solving it today, January 7th. 27 years ago I was in Budapest on a college trip. While I was there, my brother was doing a routine flight from Chicago to Moline delivering mail. It was so cold that night, that the throttle on the plane froze. There was nothing he could do. I had to make it back for the funeral from Hungry via Frankfurt, NYC, to Chicago. It took two days, and when I landed, I was greeted by friends of the family with a bag of black clothes to put on. We went straight to the funeral as I changed in the back seat. The day my brother was buried is also my mother's birthday. January 7th. I was meant to solve this weeks VFYW, because it gave me time to think of my brother.
I have never been to Budapest, but it is on my list. My great-grandmother (or, more likely great-great grandmother as my grandmother was likely the daughter of the woman who was her 17-year-old sister…) was a Jew from Budapest who converted to Lutheranism to marry my great-grandfather. They came to the states in the very early part of the 20th century. I have always been intrigued by this strange lineage, and so Budapest holds particular romantic appeal for me. It was enjoyable to troll around looking at photos of it online this weekend, so thank you!
OK, I realize that if you sent a hard-copy book to everyone who won this week, there would be a deforestation problem. But still, thank you for this nice easy one: after years of abandoning half-hearted VFYW attempts, this picture had so many clues I couldn't not chase it down. Finally, the thrill of discovery! Thanks for taking a week to cater to the dilettantes.
We were facing an incredibly difficult determination of this week's winner until we came across this brilliant video submission – a VFYW first:
Creativity and diligence wins the day. From the submitter of the contest photo:
It was taken last week from an apartment on Károly körút 9, along a main road on the Pest side of Budapest. The apartment is part of the K9 Apartment complex and the photo is taken from apartment number 410. The building is about 150 meters from the Dohany Street Synagogue – Europe's largest functioning synagogue. 300 meters in the opposite direction you will find the Vaci Ucta – the popular pedestrian street full of shops, cafes, and, this time of year, the incredible Christmas market. I have attached two other photos for fun: one that looks out the other direction from the window and one of the front of the building (although I don't know which window it is from that angle).
I am a DC native (grew up in Takoma Park) and currently live with my family near Nice, France where I teach history/economics at an international school. We normally spend the Christmas break with family members who come to visit, but this year we were "alone" for the first time so we decided to take an American-style road trip during the week between Christmas and New Years. We headed east and spent seven days visiting capital cities in eastern Europe – including Ljubljana, Zagreb, Bratislava, and Budapest. We stayed in Budapest for two nights and the K9 Apartments was where we stayed.
It was one of the best weeks we have ever had: almost 3000 km, 5 European capital cities (Vienna being the 5th), lots of coffee breaks for my wife and I so the kids could run around, great food, amazing history, and best of all – the chance to get out and see parts of the world that we had never seen before. Sort of a big, week-long "View From Your Window".