I actually like VHF/UHF SSB quite a bit and there's barely even any activity around here that I can access with my low antennas. Why not build a small lightweight 2m beam of some sort that the 27m pole can bear at reasonable height?
I'm always a little jealous of the level of VHF activity that seems to go on in the cluster when conditions are decent in Europe, though maybe a lot of that is on the continent.
You've got a ticket, a radio, an antenna, and you didn't call some stations? They do
want to hear from you. You can find the contest info ... the "exchange" you should give, by Googling the contest name. And honestly, in a VHF contest, if they call CQ a couple times with no answers, they'd be willing to tell you the exchange you need to give them to make the contact. Maybe they'd be a little less tolerant if the contest is purely
distance scored, but what are they going to do, dunk your radio in the drink?
As far as the rest goes? Maybe don't worry about that yet. There's a lot of "HF as real amateur radio" culture in our ranks, but I got my start doing "DX" on 2m FM. I lived on a hill overlooking Lake Erie and I could hit repeaters in Canada... my first amateur radio contact was conducted from the driveway of my parents' house on a handheld... the first station I worked was a whole other DXCC country
. I wish I'd had a multi-mode rig back then.
Might as well run what you've got and see if it sticks. "Listen a lot" seems reasonable advice regarding HF if you've got a working receiver and a thing to hang a wire on.