The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #230


A reader writes:

A quick glance at the photo immediately brought Haifa to mind, particularly the curved bay stretching north to Akko and the hint of date palms in the foreground. On closer inspection I found nothing major to persuade me otherwise, although I seem to remember the coastline to be slightly more built up than it appears in the photo. In any case, finding the actual building has proved beyond me, so I’ll guess this was taken from a house somewhere along Henrietta Szold Street.

Another hedges his bets:

This is obviously Richmond, California; Cape Town, South Africa; Perth, Australia; Almeria, Spain; or Valparaiso, Chile. (I think that covers all of the Mediterranean-climate bases.)

Another looks very closely:

Surgery this week meant a short window of time to search, but during that time I searched every port identified by as a port of call for Mediterranean Shipping Company, the MSC seen on the container ship. However, it seems to be about 60 short of the number of ports actually serviced by MSC. So, I’m left waiting to hear where it is. Judging from the picture, I see what could be Japanese architecture, arid mountains, and modern homes and street lights. I think Hawaii and Japan are too lush and, and so I’m guessing a shot in the dark that it’s in California. I thought maybe Palo Alto, but it doesn’t match.

The next reader might be wrong, but at least we learn something:

Holy crap! I think I’m starting to get into this, as I have been at least getting the right city. I think you’re showing some British Imperial nostalgia, as this is almost certainly the city of Valapraiso, Chile! What has this got to do with Britain? Well it was port city that held commemorative events for the Battle of Coronel, where a naval force under the German von Spee destroyed an antiquated British force under Rear Admiral Cradock, the first naval loss by the Royal Navy in World War I (and a humiliating one at that, as all casualties were British). However, this victory sowed the seeds for the defeat of von Spee and his men, since he had expended over half his ammunition in the battle and had no means of re-supply. The British were eager for revenge, which they got shortly thereafter at the Battle of the Falkland Islands.

The 100th anniversary was just this month. And the skyline looks just like the many pictures that the BBC posted on the anniversary of the battle.  I’ll leave the specific window to someone else …

Another emailer gets us on the right continent with this tantalizing offer:

Hi Dear, compliments of the season. I know that you do not know me, i do not know you in person but i got your contact from a business consultant in Dakar – Senegal. I have a proposal for you,please get back to me if you are interested in a business related issues..

A real reader takes us to the right city in Africa:

I thought it might be Marseille from looking around during other contests, but nope. (That’s the story for most of these contests for me, “Know nope.”) So please let it be Cape Town, South Africa. I’m guessing somewhere in the Oranjezicht neighborhood.

A former resident confirms:

I’m an American who spent 4 years (’92-’95) teaching high school at Zonnebloem on the edge of the old District Six in Cape Town (near this exquisite perch); now principal of a school in Gaborone, Botswana (landlocked), and miss the mountains and sea in the world’s most beautiful city. Yup, even better than San Francisco. Actually, the best view from this spot in the “city bowl” is of Table Mountain which you’d see if you turned 180 degrees.

Table Mountain has been made a few appearances on the Dish, including Contest #69, which led to one of our favorite coincidences of the contest series. Meanwhile, a former winner nails this week’s hotel and window with yet another greatly informed entry:

This week, we are all jealous of the submitter who enjoyed a meal in the dining room of the MannaBay Boutique Hotel admiring the views across Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa out towards Table Bay.  The address is 8 Bridle Road, Oranjezicht, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa and it sits below Table Mountain.  At first, the foliage, mountains across the water, and my mistaken believe that there was a mixture of forks and chopsticks on the table caused me to start my search in Australia and New Zealand. I searched for container ports where the opening of the bay faces north in the southern hemisphere, but few ports fit.  Finally giving up on Oceania, I randomly searched ports in Chile and South Africa and quickly landed in Cape Town.

The window is the large glass wall of the MannaBay’s dining room facing north.  There are many wonderful pictures of the room and the window online, including this one.  The angle and stone wall along the left edge of the contest photo means the photographer was standing above the table against the left (western) wall of the room:


Although a wonderful painting, the hotel’s decorator placed the portrait of Lord Byron wearing Albanian dress in the Persian room.  It was painted in 1813 after Byron returned from his Grand Tour of the Mediterranean but prior to his more famous foreign travels that culminated in his death during the Greek War of Independence.  Byron, and this famous painting, would influence generations of future travel writers.  As seen in this portion of a BBC documentary, Patrick Leigh Fermor looked to Byron for literary inspiration as well as how to pose when wearing traditional Cretan pants.  The horse statutes in the Persian room also seem out of place.  They appear to resemble Chinese terracotta horse statutes (here or here) rather than Persian ones.  Nonetheless, the room – like the others – looks amazing.

This week is really going to haunt this player:

I woke up this morning from a bad dream where I had put the wrong address on my entry. And I had!  The house I indicated in my earlier email is 4 Bridle Rd, not 6 Bridle Rd as I had stated previously. So 4 Bridle Rd.  Final answer. And now you know the contest gives some of us bad dreams.

As noted above, it’s 8 Bridle Road. Here’s this week’s collage of your guesses:


A long-time reader, first-time player:

We had a dinner party tonight and I showed a South African friend who knew immediately that it was Cape Town. His dad, now a US citizen, grew up in a neighborhood in the picture. After five pounds of steak and a lot of wine, we started our investigation in earnest. I relied on Google Earth and clicked on B&B’s, restaurants and hotels in the vicinity. For a while I got sidetracked and looked for establishments with Eames chairs – since they’re trendy – but came back to Google and methodically checked until I found MannaBay. It’s 1 AM!

Also, I’m a huge fan. The Dish kept me sane my ten years as a stay-at-home mom. Between breastfeeding, spit-up, laundry, cooking, baths, play dates, errands, etc. I religiously visited The Dish. I’m back to work so I don’t get it as often, but when I do, it’s one of my favorite parts of the day.

Another correct guesser gets rightfully sentimental:

Since the birth of my second daughter in mid-October, I haven’t participated in the contest, finding the views too difficult to solve from only a mobile phone and in the limited time available.  This week, with the baby sleeping more soundly, and a view that instantly evoked a reaction in me, I had to solve it.

While sitting with my new daughter sleeping next to me, I was brought back to a thrilling time a few months into my relationship with her mother (and my wife).  My wife and I met in the summer of 2001 during a summer job, and instantly hit it off.  While we almost instantly knew we were soulmates, she was taking the fall of 2001 to study abroad in South Africa, first in Venda, and then Cape Town.  Before smart phones and ubiquitous internet accessibility or Skype, this was a real challenge to our relationship.  Feeling like I needed a personal connection, I decided to visit her once she got to Cape Town.  I flew half way around the world in October, 2001, shortly after 9/11.  After a nervous transfer through Johannesburg and having my luggage lost, I was unsure if I had made a wise choice.  But the moment I saw my wife, it was clear why I had to come.  Her classmates quickly accepted me, (perhaps mockingly) calling me “The One,” and I proceeded to have an amazing experience with the woman I was madly in love with, who I’m now lucky enough to call my wife and mother of our children.

Another reader shares a less happy memory:

It took me a very long time to identify this as Cape Town even though I’d spent a few nights with some friends in this general area several years ago. It was 1994 and my first time to Cape Town. I’d been staying in Botswana for a few years and was doing some hitchhiking to see a few places before I headed back home to the States. I left Cape Town on 10 May.  Nelson Mandela took the oath of office in Cape Town that same day.  I could tell you all the reasons why I left when I did, but they all seem rather lame now. I was standing by the paved road on the edge of Cape Town looking for a ride to Namibia when I saw the flyover.  I took out my camera, took a picture, and instantly knew that I was going to regret that moment for the rest of my life:

mandela flyover

Also, our contest poet from last week returns:

This one took longer than I had predicted
My wife suspects that I am addicted.

Again with the seaside ports you go,
MSC has 2-7-0.

Search shots of “succulents”, where’s this one found?
Eureka, the MSC port of Cape Town!

Next, a feat of long distance alignment,
Oh, I spy three! What alignment refinement:
That hill in Cape Farms, the Civ-Centre Tower,
And solar arrays … now I feel the power!

(As everyone knows, solar panels face north,
As long as you live way down south, of corth.)

Plotting scotch tape across PC screen,
I head for the view, with points in between,
To T-Mountain Park, I wiggle and squirm,
Manna Bay Cafe: Reflections confirm!

Left window panel, floor two, final tally,
Now for an optional tasteless finale:

Who, me? Addicted? What kind of a man,
Reads maps on his iPad while warming the can?
Please do not laugh, I may be a stinker,
But you can’t go wrong emulating The Thinker!

But emulators be warned, our Grand Champion has become a household name:

“I bet Doug Chini is happy,” said my 10-year-old daughter when she saw this one …

We’re not so sure:

The “Pom Pom” room. Yep, that’s actually the name of one of the rooms at the hotel where this week’s view was shot. The pic itself was only middling in terms of difficulty, but the hotel may very well be the most disgustingly posh lodgings ever featured in the contest. Which is my way of saying that I’d give my right arm to be there instead of being stuck up here staring into the teeth of the oncoming New York winter.

VFYW Cape Town Aerial Marked - Copy

This week’s view comes from a hotel on the lower slopes of Table Mountain and looks out over Cape Town, South Africa along a heading of 25.58 degrees. The picture was taken at approximately 7:02 AM local time on the morning of November 6th from the front left side of the Cafe at the MannaBay Hotel.

On to this week’s winner. This contest was the 18th time this veteran player has nailed at least the right building. His prize-winning entry this week:

This VFYW was taken from the Manna Bay hotel in Cape Town, bordering Table Mountain at 8 Bridle Rd.

The photographer sees a bay, with substantial development on both opposing shores.  The architecture is Western European or American; there are no hints of East Asian, South Asian, or classic Mediterranean building details.  The flora suggests a climate that is temperate, but somewhat arid.  I’m familiar enough with California to rule its cities out.  My inclination was that we are looking at western or southern Australia, Chile or Argentina, South Africa, or possibly Mexico.  The two long piers in the harbor provided a useful litmus test when looking at maps of harbors. Having first ruled out the harbors of Perth and Adelaide, I hit paydirt with the long piers at Cape Town:


Using Google Maps, I knew I was close when I found the street lamp by a house with the appropriate shingle roof.


Then I found the solar panels, and considered the alignment of the corner of their platform and the peak of the shingle roof:

image003That pointed me to the Manna Bay, and the solution. X marks the spot:


… which we can see from the inside, too, along with the table and chairs reflected in the glass of the VFYW:


By the way, our winner was also the reader the submitted the photo for Contest #197. Speaking of submitters, this week’s photo was the first this reader had ever sent in:

I was in Cape Town as part of a trip to South Africa to attend the wedding of the daughter of very close friends of mine from Washington DC (glad Andrew finally came to his senses and moved back!).  She is an American and yesterday married a South African man from Hermanus, a spectacularly beautiful resort town on the Atlantic about 90 minutes drive from Cape Town.  Hermanus is famous for having the best land-based whale watching in the world.  A large population of Southern Right whales spends July to December in Walker Bay.

Cape Town, and the Western Cape part of South Africa, is stunningly beautiful. The core part of the city as you no doubt know is nestled between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean (Table Bay). The climate is Mediterranean, and it is late spring now. Spectacular sunny warm days with very low humidity, and chilly nights. A little like the weather in Santa Barbara California. The city is an amazing melting pot of people of indigenous tribal, Afrikaans, British and a little bit of everything else.  For example there is a section of the city that originally housed a large Malaysian population. Little known fact at least to me – when the Dutch first colonized South Africa they brought Malaysians as slaves.  The people are extremely friendly, the food and wine are delicious, and the cost is relatively low, at least that is the sense of American tourists like me.

I will follow the results of the photo contest with great interest. My guess is that a lot of people will quickly figure out it is Cape Town but they may have more trouble identifying the MannaBay hotel. We shall see.

Thanks and keep up the great work. I read The Dish every day, including here in South Africa.

Lastly, reader alerts us to some new competition from The Paris Review:

For the past few years, readers of the Daily have enjoyed an occasional series called “Windows on the World,” featuring Matteo Pericoli’s intricate pen-and-ink drawings of the views from writers’ windows around the world. Now those drawings are available in a book—Windows on the World: Fifty Writers, Fifty Views—and we’re celebrating with a contest. You can have your view illustrated by Pericoli, too. Starting today, submit a photograph of the view through your window—including the window frame—along with three hundred words about what you see…

The reader adds, “But I guess plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, right?”

You can browse a gallery of all our previous contests here.