Well, our decision has been made.
Our destination will be London, and our travel period will be the first two weeks of September.
This is pretty much what I expected, actually. This travel period is ideal for my brother's work schedule, and it is also pretty good for my work schedule. As for my Dad and Josh, they can take time off whenever they want (except that Josh does not get paid when he is off). The destination, too, is ideal for everyone, because all of us love London.
There is one downside to London: the theater offerings are pretty meager in September. There are only four plays we want to see, and three of them have not even opened yet. We would like to see "The Woman In Black", a mystery that has been running since 1989. We would also like to see a major new play about the death of Pope John Paul I in a major new production at the Haymarket, a revival of Clifford Odets' "Awake And Sing" with Stockard Channing, and a David Storey play, all of which open between now and the end of summer. If these latter three plays all receive poor reviews and close before September, I guess we shall be out of luck.
We checked the London concert schedules at all the major venues for this two-week period, and we found them to be mostly barren except for Wigmore Hall. Then it dawned on us that the reason that the regular venues were not offering anything was because the Proms would still be going on, and we visited the Proms website and discovered that there were four Proms concerts we wanted to hear during our visit: orchestral concerts by the San Francisco Symphony, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony. This fact, I believe, tipped my parents' decision in favor of London--my parents do not get to hear many visiting orchestras in Minneapolis.
Whenever the BBC claims, as it often does, that the Proms is the world's largest music festival, I have to stop myself from gagging. The Proms is, by and large, nothing more than a celebration of Britain's mediocre (if not worse) regional ensembles. There is an alarming number of such ensembles in Britain, and the Proms gives these orchestras an annual opportunity to appear in London. However, visiting orchestras from the U.S. and from the continent tend to be bunched together near the conclusion of the Proms season so as to end the season on a high note, and the high point of the Proms season will--happily--coincide with our time in London. My parents will enjoy going to the Proms very much.
I think that we will stay in Kensington. This is so because my parents stayed at a hotel in Kensington four or five years ago, and they were happy with the hotel. Since my parents were happy there before, we should probably stay there this time, too. London hotels are the costliest in Europe, and well behind U.S. standards, and it is virtually impossible to find a decent hotel in London without paying a fortune. The hotel in Kensington meets my parents' requirements, and yet it is not as expensive as hotels in Mayfair. It is a nicer (and more expensive) hotel than my brother and Josh and I would choose if we were going on our own, but it is not too far out of our budget and we three will bunk together, so it will be manageable for us. In addition, we very much like the fact that the hotel has a large swimming pool, which we will make use of.
Staying in Kensington will also mean that we can avoid, by and large, some of the most-heavily-traveled tube lines and some of the most-heavily-used tube stations in the very center of London. We will be able to skirt the very center of London via the Circle Line during much of our time in London. This will be of some comfort to all of us, I believe.
Staying in Kensington also places us within walking distance of the Royal Albert Hall, site of the Proms. It is also within walking distance of Apsley House, and the Wellington Arch, and The Royal College Of Music, and the Albert Memorial, and Leighton House, and the Victoria And Albert Museum, and the Brompton Oratory, all of which we will visit on this trip.
Our current plan is to depart the Thursday night before Labor Day, arriving in London early the following morning. We intend to spend fifteen days in London, returning on a Saturday (thereby giving us all an opportunity to collect ourselves on Sunday before going back to work on Monday).
Now we have almost three months to put together a schedule of what we want to do, day by day, to make maximal use of our time. It will be fun, and we are already working on it, and we are all very excited.