The VFYW Contest: Winner #5


A reader writes:

Ok, so "late at night" means the city is in the far north. The building in the foreground looks French to me but the rest of the buildings look North American (and that parked car seems to be a mid-sized sedan or SUV). The river and the mountains make me think of the West Coast. But I can't reconcile the "French" building with anywhere in western Canada. Can it be in Alaska? How the hell did it get there? So I'm going to take the plunge and say Juneau.

Another writes:

Looks like a fjord there, with European style buildings and cars, and signs of advanced industry. I guess Norway, and probably somewhere on the outskirts of Oslo.


I think the view is from Reykjavik, Iceland, though it could be from some village in Norway. Definitely Scandinavian architecture.


Oulu, Finland.  Thought process: 1) Far north, 2) Body of water in town, 3) Possible volcano nearby (no idea if I actually hit on this one), 4) Right-hand drive country (not that tough, since most are)


I'm going to say Isafjordur, Iceland. If it is, I know only because I worked on a cruise ship last summer that stopped there and I went on a great hike on the mountain in the background. If it's not, the resemblance is pretty uncanny.


My guess is that the photo was taken in Tromso, in northern Sweden. "Late at night" - suggests a town located above the Arctic Circle. Architecture is northern European, but generally too high-quality to be in the (former) Soviet Union. Tromso is also approximately the right size (~70,000 population) to be compatible with the urban scene in the photo. An enjoyable context for my day of rest. Thanks for the challenge.

Our pleasure. But "Tromso, Sweden" is just a tad off. Answer after the jump:

My girlfriend and I puzzled this out. The fjord landscape in the background rules out Sweden and Finland, leaving Norway. The buildings in the foreground are quite large, and suggest the center of a large town. We looked at Google Maps and Youtube videos of Oslo, Trondheim, Bergen and Tromso, of these, we thought Tromso was the most likely. We believe the picture was taken overlooking the Nerstranda Senter, possibly taken from an upper floor of the "City Living Hotel", on the corner of Strandskillet and Gronnegata.

A handful of readers also got as specific as the street intersection. But the winner has to go to the reader with the multimedia entry:

The late-night sun was an easy tip off to look towards the Arctic Circle. The architectural mix of 19th Century neoclassical and 20th Century modern helped me zero in on Scandinavia, while the mountainous topography tilted the likelihood toward Norway over Sweden. A glance for mid-sized, Norwegian cities that far north with Google Maps finally made Tromsø a very strong contender, and a panoramic, waterfront view on the city's German Wikipedia page confirmed it -- I was even able to mark the approximate location of the photographer (Strandskillet & Grønnegata) and the angle of view on the enclosed photo:


Readers are getting too good at these.  We'll have to crank up the difficulty a bit.

Also, a special thanks to this reader, who reveals the reason why so many readers might have guessed correctly this week:

Just a note - the exif data in the current VFYW image says "East of Tromso", which, if the pic is from Tromso, Norway, is a pretty big giveaway. You might want to strip all exif/iptc data from your VFYW images in the future. This can be done in most image editing programs (Photoshop, etc).