The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #194


A reader details the scene:

Lots of post-war buildings -> a place that had to build a lot after the war. Decent-sized city. Mountainy hills. Bonsai-ish shaped tree. Facing Southeast. That’s all I’ve got. Kyoto, Japan?

Another in East Asia:

Jungly trees framed by stacked-tower high-rises and snaking mountains: could only be the landscape of Hong Kong!

Maybe it’s in Europe:

I swear that’s a Mediterranean city, and I think it could be Marseille on the French Riviera.  I’ve been there a few times (though it’s been a long time), and both the hills and the architecture look very familiar.

Or Central America?

My goal is to get the right city at least once. My guess here is based on the general impressions I have of San Jose, Costa Rica (city in a geologic bowl + Spanish tile at the bottom) and that the towers seem familiar.

Another heads south:

Santiago, Chile. Never been, but this picture makes me want to go.

Right continent. Another is thinking Brazil:

This is a great contest to be able to learn about other countries and cultures.  On a work-related visit to Sao Paulo a few years ago, on one of the tourist tours we got, it was mentioned that Sao Paulo was the city with most buildings in the world.  Since the photo show a large amount of buildings in a limited space, my best guess will be Sao Paulo.

Another city:

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil? The faded Brazilian flag on that far-off skyscraper suggests that I’m looking in Corcovado_statue01_2005-03-14the right place, even without the sight of Cristo Redentor to verify. I don’t know this neighborhood, so I’m guessing Jardim Botânico, near the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, looking north. The hills seem to match, although I don’t know that the residential buildings are actually as tall as these, or that there’s much new World Cup or Olympic construction in this part of town. These buildings seem more vertical than Rio’s, and I could keep digging, but this way madness lies. So a wild guess: the top floor of Rua Juan Carlos, 147, looking northeast.

(I enjoy the confident responses that turn out to be continents away from the truth, so I’ll be in amusing company if this is actually in southeast Asia. In any case, I suspect Glenn Greenwald will have a little laugh at my answer.)

Another moves down the map:

Montevideo, Uruguay. Because why not?

Another gets to the correct corner of the continent:

Just a wild guess, but this week’s contest photo really looks like Quito. I spent several weeks in Ecuador in January of 2007, and saw these kinds of clustered high-rises a lot. It was also the first (and so far only) time that I had the opportunity to eat guinea pig for dinner (aka “cuy”, a traditional Andean meal, and actually pretty tasty – but don’t tell my guinea-pig loving niece).

Also, kudos on the contest photo selections. I’m always amazed at the details that your readers are able to ferret out. I’d wager to say that the contest alone is worth a subscription to the Dish!

Another adds:

If I am right that this is Quito, it is a testimony to the descriptive skills of Didier Tronchet, a French illustrator who lives there, and whose illustrated tale “Les Vertiges de Quito” (Quito Vertigo), I read in the summer 2011 issue of the revue XXI.  I’ve never been to Quito, and as best I know I’ve not seen photographs of the city, but this photo reminds me of the city described and drawn by Tronchet.

Another joins the head-scratching:

So simple, yet so difficult.

The mixture of red brick and concrete construction – and the density of the buildings – make me certain this is Caracas, Venezuela.  But there are simply no distinguishing clues other than what looks like two letters (SW) from a large hillside sign.  That didn’t help and after hours of searching I cannot narrow down the location and I’m giving up in the name of marital harmony.  I will guess that it was taken from somewhere in the Altamira neighborhood.

Good puzzle. And thank you, by the way, for the excellent coverage of events in Ukraine. I can’t overstate how helpful it is when you pull together insight from other authors and tie it together with your own thoughts. Well worth the price of subscription.

Caracas was the most popular incorrect guess this week:

The unfinished building in the center reminded me of Homeland, in the scenes when Brody was in Caracas, in the Torre de David. Of course, those were filmed in Puerto Rico, and when I did a little research on the Torre de David, it’s clear that it’s not the main building in this picture. But I’m sticking with my gut, since Venezuela has been in the news.

Another gets the correct country:

Beautiful photo this week. The city looks at first glance like a lot of the major Latin American cities, some of which I know only from photographs: La Paz, Quito, Rio, Caracas. I was in La Paz and Quito some years ago and was surprised how vertical their skylines were. Yet something about this image doesn’t quite look like either. La Paz is situated more in a giant crater, with the boom-city of El Alto up along the rim, while Quito is hemmed in by giant, green volcanoes that look a lot steeper than the mountains here.

Based only on photos I’ve seen in the past, I’m going to say it’s Bogotá, Colombia, crossing my fingers that it isn’t one of the other cities that I’ve mentioned. Or worse, Medellín.


I honestly don’t know how people do this contest.  I knew the Hossana, Ethiopia entry from a few months ago, but all that required was a quick glance (I didn’t know the town, but I did Peace Corps there, and knew it was Ethiopia). For this one, though, I have been searching for about an hour and a half, and all I have come up with is El Poblado district in Medellin, Colombia – and that’s thanks to my wife.  I know some one is going to get this one, but I don’t know how people do it week after week.

Medellín it is, and also in the El Poblado district.  Another reader guesses a nearby apartment building:


Well I was able to narrow this one down to Medellin with the help of two pictures (one from Google Earth, one from a traveller’s YouTube video). The short wide building on the right side of the photo is the Diez Hotel. But damn it! Google Earth and Google Maps are out-of-date (unable to keep up with the apparently insane pace of construction in Medellin, I guess), so locating the building where the VFYW photo was shot from was nearly impossible.

But I did find these photos, which I think were taken from the San Pedro de Alcantra apartment building, and judging by the views, this is the building seen in the foreground of the VFYW photo (below left), as well as a view from another complex (below right):


This must be the apartment complex where the photo was taken, but I couldn’t find the address, so my best guess for exact location is: Carrera 37A #11B-100, Seventh Floor, Medellin, Antioquia, Columbia

Another reader would take issue with that entry:

Assuming this view is in Colombia, please reject any submissions that do not spell ColOmbia correctly.

Another takes the time to explain an interesting feud:

My mom is from Bogotá, which has an old civic rivalry with Medellín that’s on par with the old hatreds between certain medieval English market towns or ancient Greek city-states. Below is a summary on inter-Colombian hatreds in case anyone is interested.

Bogotanos are stereotypically a bit cachaco – cold, distant and stuck-up in their manners like a British toff or Boston Brahmin. Bogotá is set up high in the Andes and has a climate similar to London. Residents used to wear woolen ruanas (ponchos) over their dresses and suits. Bogotá was also the old Spanish viceroyal capital. The presence of the Spanish court, and, later, the seat of the Colombian republic, brought with it all the stuff the goes along with the State in ambitious young countries striving for respectability: embassies, foreigners, archbishops, seminaries, learned professional societies, universities, cafes, bookstores, Marxists, pamphleteers, art galleries, the national language academy. Bogotá was dubbed once the “Athens of South America.”

Medellín is the young upstart city that grew on trade and industry. Think a mini-São Paulo or Birmingham a hundred years ago. The climate is much warmer than in Bogotá, though still temperate and spring-like. Its inhabitants are known, as the stereotype goes, for being wheelers and dealers and perhaps a bit relaxed in their morals.  There is a legend that the inhabitants of the region, known as pasias, were conversos – Sephardic Jews who presented themselves as Catholics to the outside world but who maintained Jewish law and beliefs in private. They were known more recently, and more infamously, for being at the heart of the narcotics trade and the home of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

Bogotanos were concerned for a long time during the middle of the 20th century that their young paisa upstarts had outclassed them in terms of quality of life and development.  Medellín boasted (and still boasts) the country’s only metro system. Its city center was modern and clean. Its denizens were cosmopolitan and (in the middle of the 20th century) tango-obsessed – like a bunch of porteños (natives of Buenos Aires)! But, more recently, in the past quarter century, the capital has made important moves in the direction of humanistic and ecological urban design.  The Transmilenio bus rapid transit system is a massive success, as is the Ciclovía open streets program for bicyclists.  Soon Bogotá, if city hall can get their stuff together, will have its own metro. It’ll be underground, too. (What will you have then, Medellín?  What will you have then?)

Another reader gets back to the technical side of the contest:

I don’t know the street address but it’s the high-rise on Carrerra 37A, just above Calle 11B in the El Poblado district of Medellin. I’ve attached two maps to illustrate the building and angle of the photo:


I wasn’t able to find an image of the building, but my guess is a unit on the south-east corner. I’ll guess the sixth floor, based on the tree height.

Whew, this one was a doozy! After an embarrassingly long afternoon of Google searching, I found my Rosetta Stone: The modern white tower in the middle of the picture. I googled Calle 10, which is where I thought it was, and viola: a travel blog with a view of the building that clearly placed it. Now that I’d finally narrowed in on the hillside, I just needed to triangulate. I followed the probable sight lines and found that narrow tower (which sits on the south side of Calle 11B) and saw one tower looming in just the right location above it (with just enough foliage in between them).

I tried to figure out the address or whether it was a hotel for a while, but finally gave up. Man this game is hard without Street View!

Another found an alternative tool useful:

The key to solving it for me was finding a higher resolution picture on Flickr taken from a higher floor in the same building. It is hard to describe this week’s location because it isn’t a hotel and Google Street View does not include Medellín. I also couldn’t find the apartment on Airbnb. The coordinates for the building are 6.212764, -75.566072 and the closest address I could find is Carrera 37A No. 11B.  I will guess the 6th floor looking out south by southeast.


Attached are two pictures.  First, a side view picture of the tall apartment building across the street that also shows the building where the contest photo was taken.  Second, an overhead picture with a few labels.

Many contestants correctly identified the building, but only three guessed the right building name or address. This week’s winner was the only contestant to guess the right room:

After getting the right hotel in two much easier contests (Cebu City and Phoenix), this is the first time I’ve managed to solve what seems to be a more challenging VFYW. Getting to Medellin was actually the easy part. I haven’t been to South America, but the view immediately made me think of pictures I had seen of the northern part of the continent. After a few bad guesses with Quito, Bogota, and La Paz, I quickly settled on Medellin. Not too long after that, I found a similar view, and in that view the Cinemark theater was legible, allowing me to find this part of town on Google Maps.

From there, it got much tougher. The lack of Google Street View was a killer, forcing me to match 2D building tops on Google Maps with 3D skyline views in Google Images. Eventually, though, some unique buildings allowed me to nail down the location on Carrera 37A, and the address is 11b-73 – known as the Bosque de Plata, a 17 floor apartment building. Here’s a different view from that building (Apartment 1002), with both the tall building on the right and the Diez Hotel identifiable as the same buildings in the VFYW picture:


I believe I even found a couple pictures of the building from which this VFYW picture was taken (seen above to the right). Figuring out the floor and/or specific apartment is pretty much a guess. Given the level of the apartment in question relative to the building across the way, as well as the slope between those two buildings, I’m going with the 5th floor. And the picture below from 1101 had an angle on the Diez Hotel that was close enough to convince me that this was Apartment 501:


My family will be very pleased if I’m right, and thereby excused from future VFYW contests.

Oh you’ll be back! But otherwise congrats. From the submitter:

The photo was taken on Feb 10, 2014, 6:15 pm at Carrera 37A No. 11B-73, Apt# 501, Bosque de Plata, Medellin, Antioquia Colombia. It is located on a slope in the Poblado section of the city.