The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #152

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A reader writes:

The fogged-in, treeless channel with fishing vessels and the red-roofed single building. I see the North Coast of Iceland. (Though as good a guess might be Invercargill, New Zealand, which has the same look at the diametrically opposite side of the world.)


Reykjavík? Plainly, this is Iceland. No other country in the world has such distinctive window latches.


Not a lot of time to look around this week, so after what appears to be a left hand drive car, chimneys instead of air-conditioning, I am going to guess Scotland.  Google gave me some obvious fishing villages to start, and Lewwick seems to be a real chance.


Norway?, Scotland?, Ireland?, Newfoundland?, wait! – that van is a Chrysler product so USA or Canada only – plus the license plate isn’t extra wide like in Europe. Newfoundland?, Victoria?, Puget Sound?, zoom in on the license plate, wait! – isn’t that an Oregon license plate? Sort of looks like a little bit of green in the middle of a white plate so could easily be the Doug Fir tree. Of course, someone from Oregon could easily drive up to the Puget Sound or B.C. but I’ll go with the better odds: Oregon. Columbia River or Pacific Coast? Those boats make me think coast for some reason.

So where on the Oregon coast would there be a harbor like that? First thought to pop into my mind: Astoria, Oregon. Where in Astoria though? I used to live in Oregon but I’ve never been to Astoria and I’m not one of those people who spend hours on Google Earth trying to pinpoint locations for these contests and it’ll probably turn out to be New Guinea or Uruguay or someplace like that anyway. I wonder what the next post is about …


From the looks of the port city and the building under construction on the right side of the photo, I’m guessing this was an area impacted by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. I remember seeing a YouTube video of a port being inundated with a shopping center on the shoreline. In looking online, I couldn’t find the name in the particular video, so I will guess Kesnessuma, in the Miyagi Prefecture.


I’m going to Norway at the end of the month.  This VFYW looks a lot like the pictures I’m seeing in the travel books I’m using to plan my itinerary.  The weather looks about right for this time of year and the scene kind of matches my preconceived idea of what the Norwegian fjords and ports will be like.  There are a lot of places I could choose, but I’m going with Stavanger.


Well, not much to go on this week, but here is my reasoning: the cars and the license plates look American but the building in the foreground has a Scandinavian feel to it. It also seemed to me like the red and white boat looks a lot like many in the Coast Guard’s fleet. And where would there be cold and damp weather still at this time of year? So I googled where there are Coast Guard stations in Alaska, and it turns out that there is one in Petersburg, Alaska. Plus, the town’s nickname is “Little Norway” because it was founded by a Norwegian, and on Google Earth you can see many of those red-roofed buildings. So maybe the photo is taken from the Morning Mist Bed and Breakfast, second floor?

Another nails the right location:

It’s a bit ironic that while on a business trip in Bangkok, a very exotic location for me, you publish a photo of a place that I consider very familiar, also through work. We’re overlooking the harbor of St John’s, Newfoundland, a beautiful place that is very fishing oriented, which is what draws a Massachusetts-based marine biologist like me to it. The harbor entrance is off to the left, and you can’t see Tower Hill, a very nice place to overlook the city and the Atlantic Ocean. St. John’s is way out into the Atlantic, and nearby Cape Spear is the furthest east one can go on the North American continent. The people are very, very friendly, and they like to drink and play music and sing, and they like you to come along, too.

I know I won’t win – this one is too easy, and I frankly detest the minute detail of winners who determine which hotel room, how high, la la la. That’s just silly. So I’m just happy to know after many years of reading your blog, I finally nailed one, as well as I care to.

A cool view of the hotel:

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Details from another reader:

My spouse lived at the Murray Premises Hotel for a few weeks back in 2010, as part of the Opera on the Avalon Festival, and we visited her there for the last week. Her room was in an annex that faced Water Street, on the other side of this view, near where George Street connects – so if any readers know St. John’s they know that we had to wear earplugs to bed. George Street is perhaps the booziest party street on the planet – and that’s not hyperbole. To quote Wikipedia: “The street has the most bars and pubs per square foot of any street in North America, and is known to have bars that are open later than most others throughout Canada.” There was a 24-hr restaurant directly across the street where revellers would go to eat after the bars closed, then come out and barf into the street.

The photo is taken, I believe from the second floor of the Murray Premises Hotel, facing Harbour Drive. The parkade (as we call them here in Canada) is on the corner of Harbour and Beck’s Cove as part of the Bowring Downtown Centre (Bowring was originally a Newfoundland company est. 1811, a huge company with ships, provisioning, and trade on a worldwide scale in the late 19th and early 20th century – now is a gift store chain). If I’m not mistaken the photo is taken from just outside (or perhaps inside – I can’t quite remember the layout) of the breakfast room.

A local snaps a photo:


It happens, it really does happen! One sees the View from your Window Contest and says: I know that place!  Even better: That’s here!   I’ve seen other people have such reactions; I never dreamed that I’d be the same one day.

Another reader:

This is a view from the second floor of the Murray Premises Hotel overlooking St. John’s cove.  I recognize it because my mother did some demographic research on the 1918 flu there and I spent a few weeks with her in the summer.


Having Lived in Newfoundland for six years while going to school, I recognized this location immediately.  The big Irving oil sign on the opposite hill was a dead give away.  Still my favorite place on earth, would move back in a heartbeat if I could.


St John’s is a wonderful place with friendly people and appalling weather. After a business trip there years ago, while filling out my expenses back at home, three and a half time zones away, I noticed for the first time that the charming waitress who had served us in a downtown restaurant had left her phone number on the back of the receipt. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before or since. Regrets, I have a few …



I’ve been reading The Dish for yonks, but I’ve never actually sent am email on any topic.  I’ve certainly never been tempted to enter the VFYW contest.  I follow it avidly each week, but mostly to marvel at how people are able to pinpoint such exact locations from such scant clues.  Normally, the best I can do is narrow it down to continent.  But this week, I knew instantly and without a shadow of a doubt.  It was an instant recognition of home. I live on the mainland now, but I was born less than a mile away from where that photo was taken. That is St. John’s harbour.  That is Newfoundland’s characteristic rain, drizzle, and fog.  That is the Bowring building in the corner.  That is a view from the Murray Premises.

I don’t expect to win.  Having never entered before, I wouldn’t win any kind of tiebreaker, and if the location was obvious to me, it must be obvious to others.  But when I went to verify the location, I saw that Google street view doesn’t actually have data for the corner of Harbour Drive and Becks Cove.  So maybe it will be a tough one for Dishheads without local knowledge?  Probably not. But just in case, I’ve attached from the Murray Premises website that shows the scene from the opposite side of the harbour in much nicer weather. It seems like the picture has been taken from the third floor, and I’m guessing the most easterly window.

So very close. The following reader zeroes in on the correct third-floor room:

This is the Murray Premises Hotel, located on the town’s harbor in the block created by Harbour Drive, Beck’s Cove, Water Street, and Bishop’s Cove. If my estimation of the sight lines is edited original piccorrect, it’s taken from the bedroom of suite 301, or from this picture, the window furthest to the right and the lower one poking out from the roof. This picture shows the hotel with the the little red-roofed building (a paint shop, apparently) and the little overpass parking exit which are visible from the picture.

The first thing I noticed was that the car in the foreground seemed American-ish with an American-style license plate. I’ve never been to Canada, but I guess they use them there, too? I suspected that this placed the photo in British Columbia, Alaska, Washington, or Eastern Canada. I also saw the word “lock” on the window lock, so that confirmed some suspicion.

Next, I tried to identify the ships. The red one’s name is visible, but I couldn’t make out anything, really. I tried looking up ship prefixes, but none seemed to match what I was guessing. In doing this, though, I found Canadian Coast Guard ships that were painted in similar patterns. I have no google map w guidelinesreason to think this ship is a coast guard ship, but in looking through the CCG pictures, I found a link to St. John’s. This link provided another to a cool little ship-tracking site, so I looked through and didn’t find anything in St. John’s with a similarly-shaped name or a similar-looking boat. Silly me, I didn’t think about the fact that ships move, so I played on that site looking at other places in Eastern Canada.

At one point, though, I just thought, “No, St. John’s looked right.” So I went back and started looking at Panoramio pictures and street views, and of course, after about five minutes I saw the overpass. The area in front of the hotel seems to be under construction, and there was no street view. But right after the street view jumped past it, I turned it around and there was the overpass, street lights and all. From there, I just found the hotel name on the map, followed it to the website, looked at pictures to confirm, etc. And, you know, e-mailed the hotel to find out the room number. The woman who replied, Kim, was surprisingly nice given the oddity of my request.

An even more ambitious effort – and this week’s winner, given the reader’s long track record without yet clinching the prize:

The key to solving this week’s VFYW contest (in under five minutes) was identifying the red vessel Murray Premisesin the background of the photo.  Turns out there aren’t too many red vessels with ALEX as part of their name.  The ALEX GORDON is an “anchor handling vessel”, built in 1975 and its most recent known port visit, according to this site, was St. John’s,  Newfoundland.  Some quick googling confirmed this was the sight of the photo and the hotel from which the photo was taken is the Murray Premises.

I figured quite a large number of people would also quickly identify the photo location so I thought about what kind of “added value” I could bring to my contest entry.  It suddenly occurred to me, and I’m probably letting the cat out of the bag for future VFYW contests revealing this, that I could utilize a hobbyof mine – geocaching – to help identify the room number and get pictures at the location.  I looked signs_681up the closest geocache to Murray Premises and emailed the owners of the geocache and asked them if they could help me out. And did they ever!  “The Boundary Hunters” went down to hotel and took several photos for me.  They identified the room from which the VFYW photo was taken as room 301.  Unfortunately that room was occupied but they did their best to recreate the photo and were able to access the window one up and one over. The ALEX GORDON is still docked at the same location and the weather has much improved from the time when the contest photo was taken.

Details from the submitter:

This one was taken this morning as the fog was lifting on St John’s Harbour. I took it from our room in the Murray Premises, a small hotel at 5 Beck’s Cove between Water Street and Harbour Drive in what was once a mercantile warehouse built in 1846 and where my husband and I are enjoying a romantic weekend getaway. It’s room 301 … is that specific enough?