It has been several days since I've blogged. The competition is now just a memory; if you're interested, the results are now available at http://www.bfra.org/qrp/html/Pirin_2011_HF_FD_Results.pdf.
We left Pirin on Sunday, and rode the bus to Sofia and a tour of the Acom factory. While there, we saw the new equipment that Acom will have on the market (a small transceiver, an 800w amp, and an amp combiner);after lunch, we bused to the LZ9W station in Breznik. It is 50km west of Sofia, and not far from the border with Serbia. The station is located on top of an abrupt mountain that is composed mostly of iron ores and metal; ground conductivity seems to be excellent. Combine big antennas (3 stack of 6el 20M rotatable beams not too high, but in the direction of US, with the drop off of the hill, probably 200ft above ground when you go out 3 wavelengths). Its easy to see why they have a big signal in the US, and indeed everywhere. If you google Breznik Iron Ore, you will find out more about the area and its rich ore deposits of iron, silver, and gold.
We stayed at the Hotel Bardoto (which is owned and operated by the LZ9W team, it seems) (but no one seemed to know where the Hotel Bardasho was), and had dinner there. It was a delightful time, good food, good drink, good friends.
Monday saw our long drive to Sunny Beach, on the Black Sea, and stopping in Plovdiv on the way. This was a 440km trip, and took over 8 hours. We did it in two pieces; Breznik to Plovdiv, then Plovdiv to Sunny Beach, arriving a little after 10pm. While in Plovdiv, we toured the Milara plant where K1LZ's company makes industrial robots. It was quite eye-opening, to see what is being done with the technology and how the use of robots of expanding in industry.
Next we bused to Sunny Beach, stopping for some wine tasting in Thrace. Again, good food, good drink, good friends. When we finally arrived in Sunny Beach, I was exhausted and headed straight to bed while others played.
Tuesday, the group decided to take a down day. Seems that everyone was tired, but always being on the go in a strange land and the stress of the competition finally caught up to many of us. Tuesday night, we headed to Nesserba. Nesserba is on an island, and is an old town with stone walls dating back several hundred years. It was mostly souvenir shops, with some entertainment (in Bulgarian, of course), but the place was just mobbed when we got there at 9pm. After a late dinner and many rounds of toasting, we headed back to the hotel in Sunny Beach. A small group wasn't done, though, and 4 brave soles headed back out for more fun, not arriving back until almost 6AM. I know, because my roomie was one that came back then. I've had problems with my arthritis the last several days, so I've had to curtail my alcohol intake. The medication that I have doesn't work as well when its taken with drink.
I did have a chance to try some rakia (Bulgaria's national drink, and almost compulsory before each meal). It is thick, sweet, and you can feel it go all the way down until it hits your belly. Its also probably 160 proof, so a little goes a long way!
That's it for now. Some of the non-LZ competitors left Monday, a few more are leaving tomorrow, a few more between Saturday and Sunday. I'll be leaving next Monday, after getting an opportunity to be part of the LZ7HQ Headquarters team in IARU over the weekend. I've never operated a contest with propagation from Europe before, and am looking forward to putting a few Qs in the log.