A reader writes:
This photo is packed with clues! Cars. Mountains. Pine trees. A steeple and a industrial chimney. A large, odd-shaped, multi-colored building with blue window frames and skylights! Yes! A search of Google images should resolve this one in about 5 minutes, right?
Ha. You guys know exactly what you're doing, because the clues in this photo led nowhere! I searched every possible word combination for just a hint of where this might be. The best possible clue is the building. It's so strange that you'd think someone would have put it on the Internet. No offense intended to the contributor, but I did a word search for "world's ugliest buildings" because, come on, this thing is atrocious. I'm eager to see the answer, if nothing else, just to see what this building houses. My two best guesses are Landstuhl, Germany, and Brasov, Romania, and it's a toss-up. I'm going with Brasov.
OK, this week is a bit easier than last week, since the buildings and church steeple combined with that Soviet-looking smokestack just scream "Eastern Europe" to me. The only mountain range in Eastern Europe is the Carpathians, so it's most likely going to be Slovakia, the Ukraine, or Romania. That church steeple looks Romanian, so let's see if I can whittle it down from there. I'm going to go with Brasov, Romania, given that it's nestled in a tight valley (as this city appears to be) and given that Dracula's castle is nearby, giving Brasov a bit more notoriety than other cities and towns in the Transylvanian Alps.
Looks like you've landed in Switzerland again. The give-aways are the mix of 1950s-style and 1990s-style architecture (at least to me, a non-specialist) in the building in the foreground; the flat, glacial valley with hills and mountains in the distance; the mix of evergreen and deciduous trees. The isolated smokestack is a familiar sign of the industrial activity that dominates many of the Swiss valleys before you get to the tourist areas. And the church steeple makes me think of Chur, which I've been through on the train a few times.
Looks like central Europe to me, based on the steeple. The other spire looks like a commie era TV tower. No particular reason to think it's Hungary, but that's the memory file the picture flips open for me. (Madeleine, anyone?) These TV towers are tourist attractions in provincial Hungary, so I've seen several. I'm going for the one near Pécs, as the one shown isn't at the highest elevation like the tower at Kékestető. The building would be unusual in a village like Hosszúhetény, but at least the church looks right, and the general area looks rather rural.
Tough one! Anywhere mountainey, Europe. I'm thinking foothills of the Alps. Some small industrial town, wealthy enough for nice cars. Germany: Bavaria: Ichhabekeineahnungburg
Rough translation: Ihavenoclueburg. Another:
The tall, thin tree on the far right side of the picture really confused me with this one. It appears to be a black spruce (or even a white spruce), but both are native only to North America. There's another conifer sticking out on the left side of the picture from among the deciduous trees. But everything else in the picture, building, steeple, what appears to be a radio tower, all speaks so European. So I guess it must be a Norway Spruce, and since there appear to be so many deciduous trees around as well, we aren't exactly in the taiga.
So taking the range of the Norway Spruce and these low mountains, there are only a few places it could be. After eliminating several mountainous areas, I settled on the southern Rhine Valley. Although I wasn't able to locate the exact location, I'm going with Lahr/Schwarzwald, Germany.
I searched far and wide for the right hospital/rehab/sanitarium, assuming that's what this building is. Couldn't find the place is Austria or Switzerland, but found some excellent candidates in Germany near the Swiss or Austrian or French borders. Like this one. No, it doesn't look exactly the same, but it's awfully close. Since I don't have time to search the rest of the Schwarzwald for clinics, that's my guess. The shot must be from your submitter's hospital room.
I think this is somewhere in Finland. The church tower looks Finnish. The other tower looks like it's from an oil refinery. It's oil country. Buildings also make me think that it's quite far north. Why else would you compromise the architectural aesthetic so much unless you needed to survive some horrible winter? My bet is that it's some kind of research facility in a University town (or just outside). I'm going with Kuopio, Finland.
Smokestack is retrofitted for pollution control. So rule out all of eastern Europe where they couldn't care less about such niceties. Rule out Italy too - same reason. Rule out Scandinavia. Building has air conditioning units on roof; the frugal (cheap) Swedes aren't going to install air conditioning which isn't even needed 11 months per year. Also, the building is multi-color. Scandinavians prefer gray. Rule out Switzerland - mountains not high enough. Buildings not chi-chi enough I'm going with somewhere on the outskirts of the Alps - Grenoble, France. (Picture lacks signs of meaningful commercial activity or economic buzz, has that sleepy lazy French feel)
Tbilisi, Georgia? This is a completely unscientific guess based purely on instinct and memory.
I am a geography-hound and this image screamed the Balkans or Switzerland to me, though I've been to neither. My ultimate guess - Budweis, Southern Bohemia, Czech Republic - is based on Googling (web, images, and maps) "black tower," "smokestack," and "pastel colored buildings," which led to Slovenia, Bulgaria, the Black Forest area in Germany, then Bohemia in the Czech Republic. On someone's blog of their visit to Budweis I saw (in separate images) a black tower somewhat similar in style to the one in the photograph, hills, a single smokestack, and pastel-colored buildings. My only hesitation comes from the building in the foreground of the photograph looking recently-built and reflecting civic affluence, which could lead back to Germany. Perhaps Budweis is booming these days.
I've only seen ice cream colored buildings in Prague, and Curacao, but those aren't Curacao license plates so I'm going for Prague.
The siding-less buildings, moderately sized cars, black roofs and industrial chimney all scream Eastern Europe to me, and it reminds me of a city I visited on a family trip as a kid. So, my guess is: Kosice, Slovakia.
This is not the right answer. Knowing that, I write more with a simple request: publish stories of how in the name of God people who haven't actually lived in these neighbourhoods or proposed to their wives there go about figuring these things out. Even if Kosice were the right answer, I'm almost 100% sure I could never get the address, let alone the floor, apartment number, or viewing angle. Is there any way we can set your blog's readers on finding bin Laden? They seem way better at this than the CIA.
Google Maps doesn't seem to support my claim, but this scene reminds me of Levoca, Slovakia, a town I visited 25 years ago. The tower is familiar and the High Tatras mountains are in the background. It's probably not Levoca exactly, but I bet it is in the general neighborhood - maybe across the Tatras in Southern Poland.
Definitely in the right neighborhood. Another:
Poprad, Slovakia? (By the way, there should be an alternate speed contest - you have to submit within 5 minutes or something - for people who aren't going to surf, survey, triangulate, and order soil samples. Just sayin' ...)
Poprad is closer. Another:
So close. Another:
Not quite, but close enough for a win! The exact location is Martin, Slovakia, which is 42 kilometers west of Ruzomberok. The reader who submitted the photo writes:
Well, since you have been kind enough to pick this picture for this week's contest, here are a few more details. The view is from the Hotel Turiec looking southwest. The steeple is from the Church of St. Martin (click here for a better view). The high hills in the background are part of the Tatra range of the Carpathian Mountains. The steeple is should be a major clue. That specific shape and other variations are evident in the western part of Slovakia. The other clue is the tall, single smokestack in white with reddish stripes. Saw a number of those in the industrial bits of Slovakia. Can't recall ever seeing that specific variety of smokestack before.
I'd say that this might prove a difficult view to pin down, but Dish Readers have extraordinary powers. We encountered tourists in Bratislava but only locals in Martin. Nonetheless must have been a least one intrepid Dish Reader to have stopped in this odd corner of central Europe.
Even Dish readers have their limits.
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