Sunday, April 17, 2016

Christmas Eve Explorations

We didn't travel for Christmas this year, so we decided to explore some parts of the city we hadn't had a chance to visit yet. We spent part of Christmas Eve strolling through Golden Gate Park. The park is HUGE and we didn't even get to see everything inside, but we feel like we made a pretty large dent during our explorations. 
For Christmas, I got a new DSLR, so I had to take it out on Christmas Eve and snap a few pictures in the park. I am still learning how to use the camera, so the pictures were definitely test shots. The weather couldn't make up it's mind for Christmas, so it alternated between cold, warm-ish, and drizzly. But we came prepared with sunglasses, an umbrella, and scarves. 
All throughout the park are great waterfalls, ponds, streams, etc. that make you feel like you're not in the middle of a city. I remember the first time (and subsequent times) I went to New York City all I wanted to do was spend time in Central Park. Golden Gate Park had the same effect on me. There is something special about nature, even if it is artificially crafted. 

We found this amazing stone path at the base of one of the waterfalls, and I spent some time trying out different settings on my camera while Caitlin snapped shots of me looking like a dork.


That's ok though, since I like how the shot turned out in the end. Again, I'm not an actual photographer, but it is a lot of fun taking around a camera and attempting to take "artistic" photos.
In total, we walked about 5 miles through the park, and we left feeling famished. So we decided to head into the city and grab some Indian food (seems like an appropriate Christmas Eve feast). 
After dining on our delicious Indian fare, we went to Union Square to see the big Christmas tree. 
We really felt like tourists as we snapped pictures in front of the tree and of the Macy's wreaths in every window. Who cares, right? I love being a tourist in San Francisco. 
We continued our touristy activities by visiting the Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread House. This is a life-size gingerbread house inside the Fairmont hotel. 
Real gingerbread, real icing, real gumdrops, etc. It looked and smelled magical. I'm such a sucker for Christmas traditions, and this one made me feel just like a child. And although I love me some sugar, we could only inhale the scent of gingerbread for so long, so we ventured over to Grace Cathedral to sneak a peak at their Christmas Eve mass. 
This cathedral is gorgeous and definitely one to visit for those as obsessed with ornate churches as I am. We were squished in the back of the service and couldn't hear much that was being said, so we only stayed for 10 or 15 minutes, but it made things feel more like Christmas. 
We ended the night by baking cookies for Santa and watching Home Alone. Christmas in San Francisco is not too shabby, especially when you are Santa and get to enjoy warm cookies at the end of a long day of exploration.

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