May 9 - 30, 2003

Our QTH Georgioupoli

 A little more than 10 years after my first steps on the DXpeditions paths as SV9/Y88VO/p we fly again to this beautiful and historic important island - Crete. This time I am QRV from the same village as SV9/DL7VOG/p. Also planned is a side trip to Gavdos Island, which belongs to a rather new IOTA group.
 We stay, like in 1992, with the same hosts, the Papadakis’, in Georgioupolis. We are heartily welcomed as we arrive with our hired, squeaking Hyundai Atos.

Hotel “Athena” Georgioupolis

 A lot has changed sinces our last stay. Georgioupolis has changed from a relatively sleepy fishing village to a tourist centre.
Of course the people here already live a while from tourism but many hotels were built during the last few years. Perhaps this may not be unquestioning an advantage, if you are looking for a tranquil place for your vacation in Crete, but here are beautiful beaches, some real good taverns and from here one can start interesting trips into the environment in the western part of Crete. Georgioupolis is located halfway between Chania and Rethimnon at the new coast road.
 Also the Papadakis’ built a new hotel, the “Athena”. The hotel differs pleasantly from many other hotels in the neighbourhood. The rooms are all different, furnished with good taste and available for a reasonable price of about 30 Euro per day. The hotel also has some apartments for bigger families and last but not least a pool. The hotel is two years old and you will find some photographs in our album about Crete.

Our Hosts Joseph, Vasilis and Matina Papadakis

 Of course the erection of my short wave antenna has priority. Joseph, the chief, helps me. He is installing some hooks on the roof for the guide wires of my Butternut HF9VX.
 In the early afternoon I am on the air. I am a little irritated, because I did not expect such pileups from SV9. I think, that nobody really needs SV9 for a “new one”. Anyway, I am satisfied with it.
 During the days we are making trips to the villages around Georgioupolis, to Rethimnon, Chania and into the mountains nearby. In May Crete seems to be a giant rock garden.
Flowers, blooming trees and bushes wherever you look.
And in the evenings I usually sit in front of my radio after a visit in a tavern or after a talk with the Papadakis’ at the pool.
All three weekends are occupied with contests. The first weekend I take part in the Volta RTTY Contest. I close down with 450 QSOs. The second weekend I am in the Anatolian RTTY Contest (358 QSOs). Here I can’t go over the whole distance, because I have to get the antenna down before dark. We have to get up early Monday morning to catch the ferry boat to Gavdos Island in Paleochora at 8 am.

Ewe, SM7BHM, in my shack

 The WPX CW takes place the third weekend. 1215 QSOs are in my log after 30 hours. The conditions are not even breathtaking good. But all the others have the same problem. My call sign SV9/DL7VOG/p is probably not the best contest call sign but it helped me a lot in the pileups of other stations. Many stations came back with a “/p ?” - everything has it’s good.
 In the Volta RTTY Contest my Swedish friend Ewe, SM7BHM, whom I know from countless contest QSOs, announes a visit in my shack. He will be on vacation in Crete near Chania after a few days. A sked is quickly arranged. We see each others for the first time and we have a lot to talk. The afternoon passes very rapidly.

 Monday morning, May 19, 2003 at 5 am we start our four days (radio-)trip to Gavdos Island.
Initially we planned to go to Gavdos at the end of our vacation but we were told that the ferry boat would not go if the sea was too high so it could happen, that we had to stay for a few days longer if the weather was bad. So we decided, to go a little earlier. We did not want to miss our plane back to Germany.
 The Tavern “Metoxi”, which I had chosen and from where the Italian guys were operating during the first activation of this new IOTA group does not open before May 25 - a pity. But the owner gives me the phone number of the “Estiatorio Litsa”, a small hotel at the ferry harbour. Because there is no central power plant on Gavdos Island, we are dependent on private sources. The owner assures that he has solar panels and a generator in his hotel.

On our way to Gavdos Island

 Our ferry boat “Sophia 2” needs four hours for the distance between Paleochora and Gavdos Island. Luckily for us the sea is calm like a mirror. In a distance we also see some dolphins. As we arrive in Karave, the ferry boat harbour of Gavdos Island, it seems that the whole Island is meeting there. The people is busy with loading and unloading tools, food and many other things from the ferry boat.
 Our hotel “Estiatorio Litsa” is acceptable, not even the “Ritz”, but it is clean and has a restaurant.
 I have to admit, the location is anything else than a good DX spot. A steep hill of about 50 m height behind the hotel covers Europe. A little dull I install my HF9VX on the roof.

Karave - Estiatorio “Litsa”

 Unfortunately the solar panels from 1986 soon prove to be electronic junk.
First tuning attempts show, that already with 20W the 24-Volt-net is breaking down.
I have to wait until the owner starts the generator. He only starts the engine twice per day for a few hours, because of the lack of Diesel and his fear the engine could come to pieces.
The first evening he starts the generator just for me two hours earlier. The next days I have to live with his rules.
So I am QRV only about 12 hours in those three days. The conditions are bad enough during daytime, I am calling endless CQs with no response - so we better use the time to walk around the island. Better conditions then in the evening hours after dark and nice pileups on 30m and 40m.
At the end I have about 1200 QSOs in my Gavdos log.
 On Gavdos Island one can walk many kilometers without meeting anybody. The island is about 50 square kilometers big and there are living about 30 native people (and from time to time a few tourists).
Of course a visit of the southernmost point of Europe, “Tripiti”, is on our top rank list of walks. After all a 18 km walk in the burning sun.

Tripiti - Europes southernmost tip

And rather no shade on the way. In the shepards shelters the heat is so high that sweat is pouring out like fountains.
 Towards the end of our walk we have to be careful with our water reserves. The first “Amstel” beer after returning to the hotel seems to vanish on its way down ;o)
 On Thursday around 2 pm our ferry boat returns to Paleochora. The sea is a little rough this time. Some passengers suffer from sea sickness. Four hours later we disembark and have an excellent meal in a fish restaurant in the harbour area. Then we drive back to Georgioupolis.
 The trip through the mountains is unforgettable beautiful. Now we have much more time as on our tour four days ago to let the beauty of the mountains, the gorges, the villages, the olive groves and and and ... affect our senses.
 Our hosts in Georgioupolis are surprised, that we are so enthusiastic about Gavdos Island. They had tried to dissuade us from our purpose as they heard, that we wanted to go to Gavdos. They told us, that there was nothing but emptiness and desert (but they never have been there though!).
 We use our last few days in Crete for some more round trips, enjoy the native cuisine and buy some souvenirs for our friends.
But we cannot convince to take a bath in the sea. Water temperatures of about 16-18°C seem to us like the waters in arctic regions. We are probably pampered from our trips to the Caribbean.

 On May 30 we fly back to Berlin.
The pell-mell on Heraklion Airport is tremendous. The main building seems to be too small for the tourist run. But we don’t let us catch from the hectic people, we don’t want to loose the good memories of our last few weeks in Crete so soon.