I had to slip a quick personal trip to the UK in my December schedule and noticed that the best round trip fare was on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul. It is not the fastest way to go, with a stop in Mauritius and plane switch in Istanbul, but it is by far the least costly way to get to London, and quality was easily comparable to my usual carrier, Air France. In playing around with the ticketing website, I noticed that there was no additional airfare to lay over a couple days in Turkey. So I did.
I could only add two days to the itinerary because of schedule constraints at work, and never having been there before, there was a lot to see. I took a small group tour the first day: blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Central Bazaar, Hippodrome, and Topkapi Palace — that was a 14 hour tour. On day two, I wanted to buy some gifts, so the Spice Market was my main objective.
When I got back to my hotel that evening, I decided to set up the end-fed antenna on the hotel’s seaside porch. I’m sure it’s wonderful most of the year, but today it was zero degrees celsius, and the porch was strafed with frozen sleet. Perfect. Living in Madagascar, I don’t get to use my winter coat much, but was glad to have it on this trip.
I called CQ for a while on 20m and then on 40m, and saw that I was hitting stations in France and Germany (and later Spain), but at relatively low signal level. This was not surprising given suboptimal antenna placement.
I heard a number of strong stations calling on 40m: Russia, Italy, and Kuwait come to mind. However, none of them could hear me — likely a difference in power level. Being next to Bulgaria, I was hoping that an LZ would hear my call and come back to me, but no luck.
Finally, I heard a call on 20m: It was Steve, IK2RGV, who gave me an RST of 529. At first I heard him 339. Not sure if he rotated an antenna, but his strength came up after the first over to 569. After the QSO, he sent me a confirmatory email, which was great — I could come in from the cold!
The gear is now packed back up, and I’m now leaving for the airport, back to Madagascar.