The View From Your Window Contest

VFYWC-227

You have until noon on Tuesday to guess it. City and/or state first, then country. Please put the location in the subject heading, along with any description within the email. If no one guesses the exact location, proximity counts.  Be sure to email entries to contest@andrewsullivan.com. Winner gets a free The View From Your Window book or two free gift subscriptions to the Dish. Have at it.

Browse our previous 226 window view contests here.

The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #227

VFYWC-227

Doug Chini is pleased:

You hear that Dish team? That sharp, repeating sound? That’s the sound of a happy Chini clapping. Nicely, nicely done. No landmarks, no giveaways, no mercy. THIS is how you do a view. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the hardest contest we’ve had (there’s almost too many clues), but it’s still a classic example of what this little slice of Internet insanity is all about.

A less-pleased contestant:

Damn. That roof seems like France, but not the rest. Trees seem Italian. Apartments, less European. Who knows? Throwing a stab with Cagliari, Sardinia.

Another describes the scene in greater detail:

European-style architecture from the era of the Industrial Revolution, but a level of run-down shabbiness that you wouldn’t find in western Europe, which says eastern Europe, Russia or former Soviet Republic, or maybe Shanghai. A crane currently building a new high rise maybe argues for the latter.

I’m guessing that one of those cars in the lower right is of former Soviet bloc make, so I’m going to take a random guess of Kiev. I can find quite a few apartment blocks of the appropriate vintage (although nothing that looks in quite such disrepair), but I’ve got nothing to narrow it down to the building under renovation with the Mansard roof and the spiky sky light.

And just as I was about to give up, I noticed the flag on the building across the street. It looks like it’s red, blue and red horizontal stripes. Laos? Doesn’t seem likely to have a city this dense. Nope, I’ll stick to Kiev. Whatever it is, at least it’s an interesting photo.

Another zooms in on the car:

OK, I give up. Based on the metal roofs, snow fences, tall buildings and the Lada in the corner of the picture, I think we’re in Moscow. Since I can’t find the buildings or window, I’ll just send in a Lada joke:

A man buys a Lada but after only one day of ownership returns it to the garage.image1
‘The car’s no good.’ says the man.
‘What’s wrong?’ asks the car dealer.
‘Do you see that steep hill over there?’ says the man, pointing. ‘Well it will only get up to 75 up there’.
‘That’s not bad really sir, especially for a Lada. I can’t see a problem with that’.
‘Trouble is,’ said the man, ‘I live at 95’.

Almost every guess this week landed in the former Soviet Union, including cities like Kaliningrad and Tbilisi. This reader returns to the most important clue:

So many clues, but unlike past challenges, this one is just out of reach.  Let’s start with the hint of a red and blue flag at the door of the building in the middle of the photo.  I wasn’t able to get a definitive hit, but the colors are typically Slavic.  (Of course,  it’s hard not to immediately conclude that we’re in Eastern Europe anyway, based on the architecture and apparent lack of recent prosperity.)  Then there’s the indecipherable script on the van to the left.  Even after zooming in I can’t tell if it’s a Latin or Cyrillic script which would have helped enormously.

So my guess is the Northern/Central Balkans.  The consistent  use of metal roofs instead of clay tile pushes us away from the southern Balkan nations, and the shallow slope of the roofs keep us from going too far north and east into snowier climates.  So my guess is Serbia, Romania or Moldova, but I can’t seem to get any more specific than that.  I’ll stick with Serbia based on the Slavic suggestion of the flag.

Identifying that flag led to the bulk of this week’s correct guesses:

You’d think a building with a curvy gambrel roof (or flagmodified mansard?) with pyramid skylights would be easy to find. Maybe, but I sure can’t. Clues were few and far between this week. The vista looked rather post-Soviet: run-down but lots of satellite dishes. Grates on the roof edges suggested someplace snowy. All that added up to any city between Harbin, China and Krakow, Poland. The single real clue I could divine was a flag on the building across the street. It looked red-blue-red to me, which is the flag of Laos, which seemed improbable. But maybe it was red-blue-orange, like the flag of Armenia.

From all the pictures I looked at, it sure did look like Yerevan, Armenia. But I still can’t find that dang building anywhere, and it’s not for lack of trying.

Dish readers have been to Yerevan, naturally:

The moment I saw this week’s VFYW contest picture I knew it was Yerevan, Armenia. I recently had the opportunity to visit that country, and as soon as I scrolled down and saw the photo I had a strong sense of deja vu. What gives it away is the mix of Eurasian, Imperial Russian and Soviet architecture. And the pink/dark stone used for many of the older buildings, which is practically uniquely Armenian (although used to a lesser extent in Azerbaijan and Georgia).

A former winner, who nearly gets the right building, elaborates on why Yerevan is known as “The Pink City”:

Pretty tough; or should I say pretty tuff? You know, there is only one city in the world whose buildings are mainly made of pink tuff [a light, porous rock formed by consolidation of volcanic ash]. This week’s picture was taken in Yerevan, Armenia, from the northwest side of this building on Teryan Street:

14th-Floor-Hotel

There is a hotel housed in the building, the 14th Floor Hotel, but – as its name clearly implies – it is located on the 14th floor, while the contest picture was taken from about the sixth floor, so I am assuming that someone hosted in the hotel sneaked into some other place in the building to shoot the photo.

A contest veteran nails the correct building – another hotel:

Thank God for the half-obscured flag of Armenia by the door of the tan building!  Armenia has the only national flag with that pattern of colors, so we have to be in Yerevan. From there it was a matter of matching the right configuration of Soviet-era housing blocks on Google Earth and finding a photo nearby showing any of the buildings in the foreground of the view.  A photo from Amiryan Street clearly shows the tan building with the obscured flag.  That building is the Yeghishe Charents School No. 67, named for the noted Armenian poet and political prisoner under Stalin:

VFYW Yerevan

Details about the rest of the area in the shot, a block away from Yerevan’s Republic Square, were frustratingly few, but there’s enough to go on to deduce that the photo was taken from the Paris Hotel at 4/6 Amiryan Street.

Another former winner adds:

Before focusing on Yerevan, the search began in Vanadzor, Armenia because the Vanadzor State Pedagogical Institute’s building looks similar to the Yeghishe Charents Basic School No. 67 in the center of the contest photo.  (No word yet on whether Armenia will be altering its naming system for elementary schools in light of the basic American meme.)  The detour was nonetheless useful.  The resemblance between the buildings indicated that the window was likely in Armenia.  As for Teryan and Charents, they were Armenian poets of some renowned.

One reader’s struggle after IDing the flag:

“This should be easy!” I thought to myself.

Wikipedia.

“Only one city of real size … Yerevan.”

Google Map.

“Bingo … all sorts of Soviet era apartment buildings. OK … quite a few. No. An amazing amount of them.”

Hours pass.

“Oh crap, I’m going to have to go block by block.”

Hours pass.

“Maybe it isn’t Yerevan. But … the flag … an embassy? That new republic of something or other …”

I was just about to go take some ibuprofen and give it another shot in the morning. But then I saw a row of buildings that looked very solid. I went through hundreds of assumptions, and none of them panned out. Eventually, brute force won out.

Another notes:

The very small image of a flag, which is barely visible, was the only clue to quickly identify the country as Armenia. This is a very poor country with wide-spread poverty which the view from the window under-scores.  Quite a contrast with Providence, Rhode Island!

The absence of Google street view for Yerevan makes identifying the precise window or address very challenging.  This montage summarizes my search process:

Montage

An incredibly detailed walkthrough:

My first impression of the scene was the juxtaposition of 20th Century shabbiness with some Second Empire / fin de siècle architecture.  I was immediately inclined to think we were looking at a former Soviet or Warsaw Pact city.  But the French feel of the old building in the foreground and the rising terrain in the background left me unable to rule out immediately a Parisian suburb or provincial cité.

image004The essential clue proved to be the flag on the building in the middle distance – a detail visible only when I enlarged it. (At first I thought the blue stripe appeared between two red ones, which led me astray for a while.)  When I recognized that the bottom stripe was orange, I knew we were in Armenia.  And presumably Yerevan, because I cannot even name another city in Armenia. But the degree of difficulty in pinpointing the window was raised significantly by the fact that Google does not provide Street View for Yerevan.  But at least some Armenians have created a less comprehensive version that allows a few street-level views.

image012

And thus we match the window’s western view …

image017

… to landmarks in Yerevan:

image007

Incidentally, a southern view from an upper floor of the same building ought to show Mt. Ararat:

image019

The building in the middle distance (labeled “B”) is the Yeghishe Charents School No. 67.  Here are some other views of it:

image008

So our photographer was looking generally west from this building or set of buildings at the corner of Amiryan and Teryan Streets:

image010

Unfortunately, because “Maps of Yerevan” has fewer still images than Google Street View, one cannot adjust slightly to see around an obstacle to find the window.  And the only street view of the northwest side of the VFYW building is this – in which the photographer’s window, overlooking the fire escape of our fin de siècle building, is obscured:

image009

And so I must resort to the most inexact of tools: a Google Earth model image:

 image013

Since the scale is distorted, I find that this is as exact as I can get.  Perhaps this is the view from Deloitte’s Yerevan office on the 3rd floor of 4/6 Amiryan, but it just as likely might be the view from the Regional Studies Center on the 4th floor.

By the way, Yerevan will forever be etched into my mind as the target city for attack in the first computer simulation I ever played (on a Radio Shack TRS-80):  B-1 Nuclear Bomber.

Only one reader nailed the right floor of the building this week, for the win:

image

Seems to be looking WSW from 4/6 Teryan St, I’m going to say the 7th floor, let’s say room 715 for kicks. Though I can’t seem to find any additional information or pictures of the building and there’s no street view.

BTW, the street numbering system seems completely arbitrary. Only clue was was the Armenian (yes that’s red, blue, ORANGE, not red, blue, red) flag on the Yeghishe Charents Basic School No. 67 and the shiny roof on the building in the view.

Congrats! From the reader who submitted the photo:

Wow!  This is great! The photo was taken from my 7th floor hotel room at the Paris Hotel in Yerevan.  I was there from Oct. 3-7.

See everyone again on Saturday.

(Archive: Text|Gallery)

The View From Your Window Contest

VFYWC-228

You have until noon on Tuesday to guess it. City and/or state first, then country. Please put the location in the subject heading, along with any description within the email. If no one guesses the exact location, proximity counts.  Be sure to email entries to contest@andrewsullivan.com. Winner gets a free The View From Your Window book or two free gift subscriptions to the Dish. Have at it.

Browse our previous contests here. Also, regular players adept at using Google Earth or Satellite View should check out Yousuke Ozawa’s effort to collect an alphabet made entirely from overhead views of buildings.

The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #228

VFYWC-228

A reader squeals:

FINALLY one I recognize at first glance! I can’t pinpoint the exact location (Google Street View is limited in the marshy/industrial areas by the Bay), but I could drive there on my way home from work. The yellow building is San Quentin Prison.

Another is thinking Reyjavik, while this one looks to mainland Europe:

Reminded me of Sète, on the southern French coast. Took a look at a couple of photos and … it’s not. Probably nearby, though!

Relatively nearby. A principled reader gets us closer:

Penzance, England. Looking eastward. I don’t think it’s fair to research these.

Another gets lost in Cornwall:

Classic VFYW: at first glance, impossible. Then, I find one clue to substantially narrow the range of my search and feel like it is within my grasp. Four hours later, it once again seems impossible.

Another thinks through the evidence:

This week’s photo really fascinates me, though I have no idea where it is, except that it’s someplace in Britain or Ireland. That’s easy enough to tell because of the double, yellow no-parking lines painted on the street, the stonework in the wall, and the fact that this place looks rather chilly. What is that white, round building anyway? A lifeguard station? Really? An old bunker for observing Nazi planes? (That would explain the observation platform on top.) What about that thing in the ocean in the right-hand side of the picture, between the rock and the lamppost – what is that? Is it really attached by a line to the aluminum pole just to the left of the lamppost or am I seeing things? If this really is somewhere in Britain or Ireland, why is the hillside on the left so devoid of vegetation?

I could go on and on. I’m really looking forward to finding out at least some of the answers to these questions.

This reader just misses the mark:

Stalwart folks enjoying the beach in cold weather, the double line, and the kerbstones scream British Isles. The color and shape of the houses is more Ireland than England, I’m thinking. Sandy beach AND rocky shore suggests north.  The shadow of the building suggests east/northeast coast. No scraggly palm trees, so not Man. Googling “cement blue bench” and “UK promenade light post” returns nothing helpful. Might be Cornwall or Wales or Scotland too. But I can’t find it so I’m hoping for proximity here. Bangor, Northern Ireland, UK?

Another hits the target by heading south:

On the “Coffee Difficulty Scale”  (the temperature of the coffee upon getting the answer corresponds to the difficulty of the window), this one scores Lukewarm.

The British influence is strong with the houses here. The double yellow line on the roadside confirms we are somewhere on the British Isles. I was pretty solid on this being either Scottish or Irish, with a possibility of somewhere in Cornwall. I almost looks like St. Ives, but without a seawall, I ruled it out. With some tinkering of search terms, I found Kilkee, Ireland pretty quickly. I could not make out any house numbers, but I think it’s either 26 or 28 Strand Line, Kilkee Ireland. Since I’m putting off raking the leaves outside, I made a picture this week:

Kilkee Ireland Contest 10-25

Now the only question is, do I stick this last half cup of coffee in the microwave, or just down it and get on with my yardwork?

For the record, it’s 26 Strand Line, but that reader nailed the right window. Meanwhile, a father feels some in-home pressure from the next generation of contest savants:

My 9-year-old son is now in the game (and playing Geoguessr on the rare occasions he’s allowed on the computer) and will soon be an force to be reckoned with. He got half way around the coast of Ireland from Dublin before I found a tipoff image under “Irish coastal towns.” Two minutes more and he would have beaten me to it.

But nobody can touch our favorite GIF-contestant, who really gives this week’s view a spin:

kilkee

A former winner really does his research on Kilkee:

Attached is the contest picture with labels for features in the scenery and directions to the statute of the late actor Richard Harris playing squash and one of the murals of Che Guevara around the town.

228 with labels

One of the features in the picture is George’s Head, the 100-foot cliff rising up from the bay on the right.  It was off George’s Head that John Francis O’Reilly claimed to have ditched the wireless set provided by his German handlers of the Sicherheitsdienst (a/k/a/ “SD”) before turning himself in to the gardaí on the night of 16 December 1943.  O’Reilly parachuted (out of a Heinkel He 111 or a Junkers JU-88 bomber) into Ireland a short distance from his parent’s home in Kilkee around 2 am and presented himself to the authorities later that evening after he learned the authorities were making inquiries.  His radio transmitter and £143 of the £300 the SD handed him were recovered in the yard of his parent’s house.  (See Terence O’Reilly’s book Hitler’s Irishmen and Anthony Kinsella’s article John Francis O’Reilly: The “Flighty Boy”).

Prior to his insertion as a German spy, O’Reilly read bulletins, poetry and other content on the Nazi’s Irland-Redacktion radio service aimed at spreading pro-German and anti-British propaganda to Irish audiences.  Given his quick arrest and subsequent military prison sentence, O’Reilly did not feed the Germans information on US and British army and navy activity in Northern Ireland as originally instructed. As for the Richard Harris statute, Harris won the Tivoli Cup for Racquets in Kilkee four years in a row (1948-51).

Another has a personal connection to the view:

I’ve tried in vain to find the location, but haven’t been successful.  The frustrating bit is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeguard station in the picture – I thought that would help.

As an aside, I live in NYC and I am married to a Londoner.  A few months before I met my (now) wife, her mother passed away. That I didn’t get the chance to meet my wife’s mother is my great loss – by every account she was an amazing and loving person and inspired all who knew her. She was also a supporter of good works, including the RNLI. And as a tribute to this amazing woman, I make a donation to the RNLI in her memory every year on the anniversary of her death.

This Irish Dishhead is very familiar with the area:

Total time to recognise this location: 0.05 seconds. But that’s hardly surprising as I’m from County Limerick, Ireland and most people from Limerick would be able to recognise Kilkee in less than a second. Kilkee, for most Limerick folk, is like a second home. During the summer months, Kilkee becomes Little Limerick for there is scarcely a family from Limerick that doesn’t have a relative who doesn’t own or rent a mobile home (caravan or trailer) or holiday home in Kilkee where they spend the majority of their summer holidays.

Personally, I’ve been going to Kilkee since before I can remember. When I was a kid, my parents used to rent a holiday home on the West End (the exact area isn’t actually captured n the photo but the white walls on the beech in the photo is an area where people play a hybrid of tennis/squash and our holiday home was just off the Dunlicky Road just behind that. It’s common for most Limerick people to leave work on a Friday evening and wish everyone well and tell them that you’ll see them on Monday, take the 70 minute trip down to Kilkee, get a bite to eat and head of to The Greyhound Bar or Fitzpatricks Pub or Scotts Bar (or any other Kilkee pub) and wind up having a drink with half of the people they’ve just wished a good weekend to at work.

Untitled1The Dunlicky Road is very well known in Kilkee and is one of the famous walking routes in the area. The walk takes you up the Dunlicky Road over towards Intrinsic Bay (not too far away from the Diving Boards) and finally over to the Pollack Holes. It’s considered one of the best natural cures for a hangover. The Pollack Holes are natural holes that have formed in the rocks that are covered by the Atlantic during high and for six months of the year, are a breeding ground for Atlantic Pollack, but during the summer months, when the tide is out, they are one of the most populated swimming spots in Kilkee. But they’re bloody freezing at the best of times! If anyone from the Dish ever decides to visit the area, I have one recommendation: bring a wetsuit! I Googled the Pollack Holes just to see what I’d get back and came across this photo of a brave man who evidently had no fear of the cold … Christ only knows how he survived.

Springsteen played a gig in Limerick last year in Thomond Park (home to the Munster Rugby Team – “G’Wan Munster!”). During his stay in Ireland, The Boss took a trip down to bossKilkee and stopped in Scotts Bar on the Main Street (properly known as O’Curry Street) in Kilkee and the photo went viral on Facebook and twitter for all Limerick people who were raging that they missed the opportunity to get locked (drunk) with The Boss in one of Kilkee’s better watering holes (another tip for anyone planning on visiting Kilkee – avoid Miles Creeks pub – kind of a rough crowd.) [Ed note: see reader update debunking this story at the bottom of the post.]

The window I found is different from the one in Google Maps, but that could be as a result of damage caused by a storm on February 12th of this year (subsequently nicknamed “Wild Wednesday”) that battered Kilkee and other locations on Ireland West Coast including Limerick City. The main bandstand in Kilkee was practically destroyed and quite a bit of damage was done to the promenade on Kilkee beach, but the local town council did a fantastic job of cleaning the area up and repairing the damage in time for the annual summer pilgrimage of Limerick residents to the area. I’m therefore assuming that the new looking wall and window were recently installed.

Another reader has a look at the damage from the storm:

Kilkee - Blue Flag

More on the town from one of several contestants who’s been there::

Kilkee is a Victorian seaside resort in Co.Clare in the west of Ireland that was hugely popular with Irish families in the sixties and seventies before cheap flights to Spain and Portugal took them to more reliable sunshine. The small round white building is the lifeguards’ hut on the Strand Line promenade.  The absence of a small flag from the roof indicates that they’re not in residence today, or not yet anyway. The shadows show the picture was taken in the morning. The hut is one of three round shelters that were originally built to cover fleeing beachgoers from the always imminent rain. The Strand Line seawall dates from Kilkee’s Victorian heyday, when Kilkee was popular with English visitors. Charlotte Bronte visited on her honeymoon in 1854. The seawall wraps around a magnificent horseshoe-shaped beach:

418110

Sponsored Content: The Irish Tourist Board has asked me to point out that the Kilkee/Loop Head area has some truly stunning Atlantic seascapes, less well known than the Cliffs of Moher in the same county, but not as tourist-infested:

doonaha3

Kilkee is also a major centre for safe and spectacular scuba diving. And here’s Kilkee’s beach on a recent summer’s day, just as I remember it in the ’70s.  Note the cloud shadow:

x_large

Speaking of shadows, Chini admits that even he suffers from routine bouts of contest terror:

After this much time and experience, you’d think it would go away; that terrifying feeling every time a new one pops up. That a sort of confidence would have developed. But no, it’s always the same. The mad desire to look around, that growing, gnawing sense of imminent failure, and the voice in the back of the head whispering “…you may never get this one.” Then, from nowhere, a sudden insight and a realization that there was nothing to worry about at all:

VFYW Kilkee Overhead Marked - Copy

This week’s winner is a four-year-veteran who hails from our esteemed list of players who have guessed difficult contests in the past but never won:

This view shows us a day at the beach in Kilkee, a resort town in County Clare, Ireland.  The double yellow lines next to the curb suggested we were somewhere in the British Isles.  My gut told me this was probably a seaside town in Ireland, but I ignored my gut and went on an extended detour through the beaches of the United Kingdom.  Bad call.

When that didn’t work, I went down a list of beaches in Ireland and found the beach in Kilkee.  The view was taken from a one-story home on the Strand Line, a scenic street that runs parallel to the beach.

VFYW Kilkee

Kilkee has a number of claims to fame, one of which is that the actor Richard Harris used to summer there.  The town honored him with a statue of him playing squash, which was unveiled by Harris’ family and Russell Crowe.  Also, the sea wall in the background used to host (improbably) a 20-foot mural with the iconic image of Che Guevara, which would’ve been just out of view to the left had it not been painted over last year.  Guevara spent a night in Kilkee and was recognized there by the artist Jim Fitzpatrick, who went on to create the famous image.  The mural was painted over after it upset some Americans who saw it and apparently left town in protest.  It’s fair to say that either the statue or the now-departed mural would’ve made memorable clues.

Congrats on a long-deserved victory. For everyone else, get ready for the next view Saturday!

 

Update from an Irish reader:

We have a “Bruce Springsteen in Kilkee” controversy! Your reader was duped by a photo supposedly showing Bruce Springsteenboss-orig outside Scott’s bar in the town. This was Photoshopped. The real picture took place in New Jersey. It’s very obvious when you compare pictures which one is real. Your reader is not alone in these parts to believe Bruce visited Kilkee while he played a concert in Limerick last summer, but unfortunately there is no evidence he was ever in Kilkee.

Update from a Californian reader:

The first guess of San Quentin Prison made me laugh out loud. I had noticed the similarity as well. In case you are not familiar with that view, here’s a photo I took recently from the Corte Madera Ecological Reserve looking toward San Quentin and the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. It’s almost like a Kilkee parallel universe:

IMG_0163

(Archive: Text|Gallery)