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Tuesday, April 12, 2016: Tom and his colleague Scott headed to London via Boston. They were upgraded to first class for the first leg of the trip.
The view of the Brickyard from the air is always impressive.
Here's the fancy first class snack on the flight to Boston.
In Boston, they boarded a Virgin Atlantic flight at 9:00 PM. This time, they walked past the first class bar to the economy section.
Overnight amenities and a small pack of conversation hearts were delivered in a resealable bag, ...
... and entertainment options practically exploded out of the seat back.
But it is the flight map that always captivates.
Here's a closer look at the contents of the amenities bag, taken after returning home. The conversation hearts were long gone, but it still contained eye shades, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, a ballpoint pen, and earplugs.
At 10:00 PM, it was time to eat dinner. We received the first of two souvenir menus for the trip.
Ooooh, delicious and fancy!

Dinner started with a garden salad, followed by a choice of BBQ pork, chicken fettuccine, or couscous vegetable stew, and raspberry and white chocolate pudding for dessert.

Breakfast consisted of fruit, yogurt, and granola with tea or hot chocolate.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016: Night passed too quickly and suddenly it was morning in London. Tom and Scott took the London Underground to Green Park, then changed lines for Pimlico.
They would be staying at the Dolphin House. It was 11:30 AM, so it was too early to check in, so they stowed their luggage before heading out again.
They passed the Tate Britain art museum, ...
... and crossed Lambeth bridge on their way to a meeting with the London Metropolitan Police.
By 3:00, they had returned from their meeting and were able to check in. Tom's room was a multi-room suite.
Here's the bedroom ...
... with a convenient table for working and Facetiming with his wife.
Here's the bathroom, ...
... the living room, ...
... and a fully functional kitchen. You know, just in case Tom felt like cooking up a little dinner.
After freshening up a bit, they headed back out for some sightseeing. Since this was Scott's first trip to London, Tom planned a route that would take them past some of the major sights. They took the Tube to Green Park Station.
First point of interest: Piccadilly Circus, a fine choice.
Next up: Trafalgar Square, featuring Nelson's Column.
This statue is called "Gift Horse" and was added to the square in 2015.
For dinner, Scott wanted traditional English pub food, ...
... so they ate at The Lord Moon of the Mall, not far away from Trafalgar Square.
Tom went traditional with Lincolnshire sausage, mash, and peas, and Scott chose chili con carne.
After dinner, they headed through the Admiralty Arch, ...
... and walked along the Mall.
St. James's Park was on the left, ...
... and Buckingham Palace was up ahead.
They took a tiny sidetrip through St. James's Park, ...
... the came out at the end of the park in front of the palace.
The palace fence is imposing, ...
... but it turns out that you can take a photo of the palace right through the bars. The Union Jack was flying, which is a new protocol that began the week after Princess Diana's death. If the queen had been in residence, her standard would have flown instead.
Twenty minutes later, they were back at the London Underground, this time at Victoria Station.
They finally got back to the hotel for some long overdue sleep. Bummer about that beige water though.

Thursday, April 14, 2016: After plenty of sleep, they were off by 9:00 AM to Borough Market.
Mmmm, chilli squid.
Get in my belly. Unfortunately, nothing was ready for sale yet, so this delicious food went untried.
Ditto for Mrs. King's pork pies.
They headed to London Bridge and saw the Tower Bridge in the distance.
Up ahead was the Shard.
They were headed to the Shard to visit the observation level. At 10:00 AM, it had just opened, ...
... so Tom and Scott were the only ones in the elevator as it ascended.
London was nice and sunny, ...
... so the views of the Thames were wonderful.
There's the Tower Bridge again, ...
... and there's the Tower of London.
Here's a view of the Walkie Talkie building (front) and the Lipstick building (right).
There was a brief pause for refreshments from the snack bar (Diet Coke, of course).
Forty minutes later, they were on their way ...
... and headed back to the hotel via the London Bridge station.
They dressed for their afternoon meeting and headed out at noon.
They passed Westminster Abbey ...
... on their way to the Queen Elizabeth II Centre ...
... for the Home Office event, none of which we can show you here.
They were done with the meeting by 5:00 and headed back outside. Hmmm, that's not a double-decker bus.
They headed back to the Underground, ...
... passing New Scotland Yard along the way.
After a quick change back to normal clothes, they headed to Westminster and had dinner at St. Stephen's Tavern.
Tom enjoyed a Kronenbourg 1664, a beer last seen in Southampton in 2015.
After dinner, they passed Parliament.
The Clock Tower was looking magnificent right across the street.
Our heroes headed toward the London Eye past the statue of Boadicea and Her Daughters.
Who knew that there was a Mr. Pancake in London too? (Shout out to the Schilling Reunion!)
They crossed Westminster Bridge and headed along the Queen's Walk past the London Aquarium. Say it with us, loyal readers: "Chicks love seahorses."
They headed to the London Eye. The line was really long so they bought an express pass ...
... and got right on.
Tom took approximately one thousand photos of Parliament.
Here's the view looking down toward Golden Jubilee Bridge and Jubilee Gardens below the London Eye.
Here's some stuff, ...
... and here's Parliament again.
Fifteen minutes into the ride, they were starting to reach the top of the wheel.
The Shard was reflecting what was left of the evening sun.
Here's the inside of the capsule, with the sunset in the background.
Have you missed seeing Parliament yet? Here it is.
Here's more Parliament with County Hall across the Thames from it all lit up in blue.
After a half hour, the ride was over, ...
... and Tom was forced to photograph Parliament from street level again.
Then they were back onto the Tube, ...
... and back out of the Tube before calling it a night.

Friday, April 15, 2016: They were heading to the Tube before 6 AM, ...
... transferring at Victoria once again on their way to Heathrow Airport.
Tom was a good grandpa and picked up a couple of books at Heathrow for his grandkids, including the adorable finger puppet book, "Hooray! Says Peppa." Shortly before 10 AM, they were boarding the flight back, once again passing the sweet, sweet luxury of the first class section before heading to their economy seats.

Once again, a fancy paper menu was delivered to let them know what culinary delights awaited them. There was a starter of creamy bean salad, followed by a choice of Somerset chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, or vegetarian palak paneer curry with dhal makhani, with caramel ganache Gü dessert or cheese and crackers after all of that.

Afternoon tea offered a chicken breast wrap or a cheese and tomato pesto wrap, plus crisps and a chocolate treat.

As their flight crossed North America, they flew over Lake Champlaign on the border of Vermont and New York.
They had a layover in Detroit then were back in Indianapolis by evening. They'd be back in London again two years later.

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