When we set foot in an unknown country at the star of a holiday, we have strongs hopes of dipping below the radar and discovering something outside of the typical tourist trail.
Which is why we're fascinated by a new photo series which captures views from homes in 27 countries, from Colombia to Australia.
Named The View From Here, the collection of pictures take us on an intimate tour of the way some live and how their window view makes them feel.
"The descriptions people submitted capture the thoughts and raw emotions of what they experienced while looking out their window, resulting in a unique perspective from people around the world," says the folks over at Somfy, the interiors website behind the project.
Somfy contacted 41 photographers around the world using a variety of freelance sites including Fiverr and Upwork and asked them to submit two photographs of the view from their window - one in the morning and one in the evening - alongside a few sentences on what it means to them.
From views of the Chilean sunset to a flat facing a Colombian mountain range and the Australian who faces a toilet block, the range of images make a fascinating insight into the way we live - along with providing plenty of fuel for wanderlust...
“Crows patrol outside the century old house we call home, a home that we are about to lose. We have to sell because the maintenance costs are rising day by day.
From my window I can see the adjacent houses situated on the north side, I can hear my neighbors talking, the dogs barking, and there are birds that sing. But it smells of dogs, as there are 9 dogs living in the gap between my house and the house next to mine.
Whenever I am in this room, I can't help but think about my childhood because this is the room I used to share with my brother. I love everything about it, this secret window and the unique view. As darkness falls you can barely see the distant houses.
I hate the fact that most of the old houses in this neighborhood are being replaced by new apartments. These old houses have been here since Calcutta was the capital of British India.”
Murray, Utah, United States
“From my window I can see into many others. The building opposite is close enough that I can see there are flowers in almost every apartment window.
At night I can hear people laughing, and the sound of silverware on plates in the small cafe below. This sound combined with the twinkly lights makes me feel serene as the tempting aroma of their food wafts up to the open window. I can also hear a bell ringing in the nearby church and the sound of cars rushing by below. I love the activity and life on my street.”
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
“I’m on the 26th floor of a 50 story building - not too high and not too low: just right. I’m low enough that I can still see and hear everything going on in the street, and high enough that there is always a breeze on my balcony, and there’s no mosquitoes.
From here I can look over the whole city. My window faces east and every morning I feel like I'm looking at the best scenery ever and it's never going to be any better than this. But then the night comes, and the view just pulls you in with a million colors and its New York-like soul. Sometimes I feel like I have a huge virtual reality screen and the scenery is changing just for me.”
“As I take this picture, I can hear birds singing and wind blowing inside the vents. I feel happy.
I love that I can see seasons change. In summer I feel every light breeze that brings the cool air from the waterfront. In autumn I watch the colors of the forest at the other side of the river changing. In winter I can see the river become slowly covered with ice. In spring I watch the ice break and the stream take it to the sea and trees next to my windows blossoming.
My apartment’s windows face the river Daugava, which is the largest river in Latvia. It is about 800 meters wide at the point where my building is located, so all I see is a vast amount of water and a mixed tree forest on the other side of the river.
As a northerner and introvert at heart, I love the fact that all I see everyday is nature even though I live in the largest city in the Baltic states.”
“My window faces a toilet block. It’s a composting toilet so no water is used to flush it. A full open flyscreen wraps the top half of the building so that the toilet always smells clean. All I can smell is fresh country air, and the fragrance of fruit trees and flowering bushes around my room.
I hear the birds calling many different tunes all day, from sun up in the break of dawn into the night. I also hear kangaroos bounding around outside chasing each other from time to time.
Our little garden provides us with nourishing herbs and salad greens that we have planted. It is such a delight to eat what we grow and it fills my heart knowing that I can live from the land.
My view makes me feel alive, like I am free from the normal restrictions of modern suburban life.”
“This view reminds me that people never completely conquer nature, as the houses sink in the green of the trees and plants. Out of my window I can see most of the suburban part of the city. Even though I only live on the fourth flour, I overlook the other houses as they are only one or two stories high. On the horizon there’s the TV-tower, which is the tallest construction in the city.
Because these windows face west I get to see pretty gorgeous sunsets. I never get tired of those! Also, most of those small houses in the view are heated by the stove or fireplaces, so in cold seasons you can see smoke rising. The only thing I do not like is that these windows don’t open. That’s a shame because I assume there are quite a lot of birds hiding among those green branches and I would like to hear their song.”
“I live at the very edge of the city and all my windows face west, to the last few buildings. I look out over sky, birds, and beautiful sunsets all year long. I'm not sure anything except seasons will ever change here - the view is just the same as it was ten years ago. Still, I could stand by my window all day long without getting bored.
The air here is fresh and clean, it's nice and quiet without city noise, the sky is always beautiful and sunsets are simply amazing. If I could, I'd keep this view forever.”
“From my window I can see the Colombian mountains laid out before me. This is the beginning of the dry season so I can smell grass and horses, and hear birdsong. The landscape is very dramatic.
It’s in sharp contrast to the rainy season when it often rains for 24 hours or more at a time. The rain feels endless. The seasons here are so determinant in all aspects of life. But I feel very comfortable here, living very simply with just the basic things I need, and I love the people here, they are so friendly and helpful.”
“When I get up, the first thing I do is look out at my beautiful city. Most mornings I’ll see my elderly neighbor as he drinks his coffee and smokes his cigarette on the terrace next to mine.
There’s always a lot of sounds, I hear birds, I hear traffic, I hear my neighbors, but the view from my window always makes me feel better. This part of town is growing very fast, and there’s a lot of changes every year, but I like those changes because they make my city look better.
At the end of each day there’s another beautiful view of my city, the sky turns dark blue and the clouds turn pink or red.”
“My view makes me feel connected to a bustling, lively city, even though I live in the suburbs. I love that I can see the modern buildings that make up Bangkok as well as the cranes that are busily erecting the future iconic buildings of the city. At night, the lights twinkle and it’s beautiful.
I really dislike the mobile phone tower that sits directly in front of my building, if I were just 5 floors higher in this building, then it wouldn’t disrupt my view.
I've only been living here for 2 months, but I can see that it won't be long before I have new buildings to look up and enchant me with their twinkling lights.”
“There are around 25 stray cats on the street, and twice a day I hear the guard call out to them for food. I love to see all the cats run towards him.
We sometimes crack jokes about the house right across from ours being haunted - it’s been unoccupied for years and is mostly hidden behind old trees. I hate the tangled mess of wires hanging from the street light, but these are so common in Pakistan that you eventually learn to ignore them.
All year round, I hear street vendors shouting out advertisements of their wares as they push their carts from street to street, selling a wide variety of things - from fruit and vegetables, to plastic buckets, to stove repairing expertise.”
“I can see the salt fields from my window. My street is always windy and most of the time it smells like the ocean. At the end of the street there is a walkway that goes along the river where many people run and walk throughout the day. In the sky I can see storks, seagulls, and during the day I hear the swallows too.
At night I can hear the crickets and the frogs. This view always makes me feel happy because it’s quiet and peaceful, it was actually one of the reasons I moved here. I love it.”
“Because the buildings neighboring me are lower, from my window I have one of the best views of the city. If I turn my head to the left, I can see the Mediterranean Sea. It is far away, but from this vantage point, I can see it. If I turn my head to the right, I can see a mountain ridge which reaches more than 1000 meters. A great view!
What I love most are the sunsets. Every day I can admire a great sunset, but on windy days (and this is a very windy place) the sunsets are unbelievable.”
“I love that I live on a high floor and I can see everything from a bird's perspective and how the scene is always moving. I hate the noise, though, and the man-made environment. I wish I could see the stars at night, but the city lights make that quite challenging.
From my window I can see the center of my town and many different buildings, ranging from old abandoned houses to new modern office buildings and flats. I can see both a mosque and the biggest statue of Virgin Mary in the world.
During the day I can hear the traffic from the boulevard nearby, but at night, thankfully, it gets quieter.”
Novo Selo, Serbia
“From my bedroom window, I can see the house of the most important person in my life, my uncle. It was no accident that I chose my room to be the one that faces his house.
I love waking up and seeing his perfectly cared for garden and smelling the freshly-cut grass in the air. Before going to bed, seeing at least one light turned on makes me feel safe and protected.”
“Currently facing me is a huge block of local authority flats; but they're due for demolition soon. They’re set to be replaced with a new block of flats. While I understand and can empathize with the housing crisis we have, there’s a selfish part of me that’s looking forward to not having to look out onto this rather ugly building and instead be able to see more of the beautiful park that's directly to the right of it.
I have the great fortune (for London standards) of having an extremely large floor to ceiling window, with a door leading out on to the balcony. It's also east-facing, which means that on the days the sun does decide to come out in full-swing, brilliant light comes through in the mornings and afternoon. When the door's closed, I can't hear much, but when it's open in the summer, I hear all the hustle and bustle from the main road down below me.”
Easter Island, Chile
“From my window I can see Ahu Tahai, the island’s sunset spot in the distance. This place makes me feel so calm, I can hear the sound of the waves breaking on the rocks and smell the sea breeze.
I feel very lucky to be here, in the middle of the ocean. I love the peace and how calm this island makes me feel. However there’s also a sad feeling: I ask myself why is time passing so quickly.”
“I see tiny houses and roads around me throughout the day from a height. There are many people and vehicles going about their business, but I feel disconnected from them, as though I am watching a silent movie.
I love to spend my time near the window especially on a sunny day, but sunny days are few and far between here.
As the sun sets, I can see lights flickering as though in a time lapse. As peaceful as it is, I miss waving a hand to a neighbour and hearing children play. At night as much as I love the silence, I wish I could sense some activity around to make me feel less isolated.”