About a month ago, my gracious host Erik told me a story of how his friend snagged a last minute flight and hotel package to one of the Greek islands for dirt cheap through this website sistaminuten.se. Ever since I’ve had my eye on the nifty site in case a real steal popped up. (It’s like Groupon Now for travel. Do we have this in the U.S.? We should.) Then the Istanbul venture materialized, and I figured that would be my last shindig before heading home. But as soon as it became clear the show possibility was nixed, I hopped online to see if I might be able to visit some lucrative locale during my last week abroad, somewhere I might not otherwise go.
After perusing all the options for at least an hour and a half, I narrowed it down to three potentials: Greece, Egypt, or the Canary Islands. I think Greece would have been more appealing had its price tag been significantly lower. Plus, everybody goes to Greece, so the cool factor sagged a bit. Egypt was tantalizing, except for the fact that right now is not such a good time to be in Cairo. I’m bold but not that bold. So I go for the Canary Islands. To be fair to the Canaries, I didn’t choose them solely by process of elimination; I took a liking to the idea immediately. The Islands are exotic, cheap, and, as an “autonomous community” of the Spanish empire, boast a native language I actually understand. It was a done deal.
Like Kayak, Sistaminuten only aggregates content, it does not sell vacation packages itself. The next thing I know, I’m redirected to a Danish travel agency’s website, Apollo, booking a ticket to Las Palmas. That’s the easy part. The package also includes accommodations, offering several arrangements from which to select. I pick the cheapest one, naturally, labeled “unspecified.” In other words, I’ll have a hotel room, I just won’t yet know at what hotel. Pausing for a minute as I stare at the screen, I hope that “unspecified” becomes specified in a relatively reasonable manner and click purchase. It’s Thursday night. The flight leaves Saturday morning. I thought it was leaving tomorrow morning. Shoot, that’s my version of “last minute.” My cool factor drops 6%.