Zach Zupancic

Zach Zupancic

Senior Designer, SolidWorks addict, AutoCAD zealot, Cyclist, Shade Tree Mechanic, & moderately tall. 

Birthdays, illegal activity, and coffee; NYC.

While this may indeed be quite a delay in posting about the trip, I figured better late than never.

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The whole concept of going to New York was brought about by Zoë. She has wanted to go to New York for her 21st birthday for quite sometime, and thanks to the parentals she was able to do so; in style. I wanted to go to New York as well, and got pretty jealous that I would be missing out on this escapade. So in vengeance, I found myself a round trip ticket going from LAX to New York for $200. Sure it was in coach, but at least I would be able to mooch off of their room.

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I arrived about 10 minutes before them, and met them at their terminal.

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As we were waiting for a taxi I instantly hated the fact that I didn't have any gloves. It didn’t matter much while my hands were in my coat, but since I would taking all of the photos I usually had one in the biting cold at all times.

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Within about 15 minutes we were finally in a taxi heading to the hotel. There is quite a difference in taximanship in New York compared to those of San Diego and LA. As cliché as it sounds, the NY taxi drivers really do drive like bats out of hell and their cab's smell of baby powder which made Zoë want to throw up...

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We finally arrived at the hotel, and made our way into the room. It was fantastic. Smaller than I thought it was going to be, but all in all we had a great view and the beds were quite comfortable.

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After we got all settled in we decided to take a walk and explore before getting some rest. Since we were only a few blocks away from Rockefeller Center we started in that direction and were fortunate enough to run into a shooting of 30 Rock. While there always is a bit of camera trickery that goes on when making a moving picture it is always interesting to actually find out how small someone really is; aka Tina Fey is super tiny.

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After they started to let people through we continued into the center where some people rented out the ice skating ring for a party.

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Zoë started to get a bit cold, so we decided to head back to the hotel, warm up a bit, and decide where we were going to grab a bite to eat before heading back out. The mom was praising the fantastics of the super famous Carnegie Deli; so Zoë and I obliged her.

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It was a bit smaller than I thought it was going to be, but then again this is New York and space is a luxury. Zoë started to look around only to mention "famous people? I seriously don’t know the faces of any of these people." Luckily there was a bowl of pickles that were thrust, and I mean thrust, onto our table where they were quickly devoured.

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One thing that we never got used to was how the waiters treated the customers. We are used to waiters serving with a smile, knowing what is on the menu, and above all being nice. It was only on a rare occasion that we encountered someone to which we were accustomed to; this was not one of those times. He did however bring us some more pickles, which made us less angry at him.

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After the over priced basic food that we ingested, we made our way back to the hotel. Even though Zoë had a plan of what she wanted to accomplish on this trip, we knew that going to the ticker tape parade for the Yankees was something that we could not miss. The next morning we made our way to the subway where Zoë and I were able to fully experience the amazingness of super public transportation.

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We got off on Rector Street, only to be ambushed by thousands upon thousands of people. Seeing the shredded paper flying through the air was nothing compared to the energy that was pulsing through the crowd. And then it exploded. When the Yankees were making their way along Broadway the crowd was deafening.

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After a bit of time reveling in this energy we started to make our way to Central Park. Since it was the mom and Zoe's birthday trip I offered to treat them to a horse drawn carrage ride around the park. We got turned around a few times on the way to the park, and both Zoë and I needed to drop by the bank, but we eventually found our way in. Once we were in the first thing that the mom said was "that looks like a great place to take a picture." Zoe ran to the hill covered in leaves, dropped to the ground, and I snapped a few photos.

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As I was taking the photos Zoë mentioned that she smelled dog poop. I looked around, but was unable to see anything close by. Although once she got up it was instantly apparent where the smell was emanating from; right under her head/back

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We continued to walk south toward Tavern on the Green in hopes of finding a carriage ride along the way. Unfortunately while we were walking through Central Park, Zoë started to have an argument with herself. And then the mom had to walk Zoë up some stairs to calm her down

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Soon after she was calm, we found this neat tree and Zoë asked for a picture of her on it. I am glad I did because it turned out to be one of the best pictures that I would take on the trip.

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Zoë asked to take a hold of the camera for a bit so that way I would at least have a few photos in the jumble. I lent her the camera, and she started to have some fun with it as we walked through the park. We came upon a light pole and Zoë demanded that I do some pole spinning, so I did.

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The mom didn’t trust that we were going in the right direction so we made our way over to a map until she was happy with our current direction. Then all of a sudden I hear the clacks of the camera behind me only to see Zoë taking photographs of a cyclist. When I saw her I would have taken the picture due to her fantastic panniers. Zoë, on the other hand, took it because she had the theme song of the wicked witch of the west come to her mind.

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Zoë gave the camera back and the more and more that I shot Zoë the more I realized that I really do like taking pictures of the back of hair. Especially when it is in motion, or when it looks amazing.

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So we kept making our way sou... SQUIRREL!

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South and eventually made it to Tavern on the Green, where I found Sasquatch

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If you go to New York and you are with a girly girl, or you want to plan a wedding, go to Tavern on the Green; hopefully it will still be there. Zoë described it as the Easter Egg house, we all agreed. The food was much better than Carnegie Deli, but the service was just as horrible; even with 5 waiters they still failed.

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We left the Tavern in search of the horse-drawn carriages, only to see one leaving. We asked of the cycle-rickshaws where we should go to find them, he told us that he would take us there and we would be there in 5 minutes. We took him up on the offer; he was a bit pushy but Zoë was tired of walking. Turns out that Bilal, or Bill, was the nicest person that we had met in New York. And as we progressed through the park we decided that we would much rather have him give us random facts about the park than just sit in a carriage drawn by a horse. Since we were close to the Metropolitan Museum of Art we asked him to head in that direction.

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Once we got there I loved it; even more so because they had an exhibition of the photographs of Robert Frank. After meandering around the MMoA for a bit of time I was stopped by an attractive Russian girl. She asked me if I would be willing to be photographed, I said that it would be fine. Then she asked if I would hold her doll on my shoulder for the photograph. It was one of the most random questions that I have ever been asked, but I figured that I probably won’t ever have the chance again so I took it.

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When we finished walking through MMoA, we made our way back to the hotel to meet one of the mom’s co-workers for dinner. We waited in the hotel bar, had a few cocktails, ran through the pictures of the day, and within about 30 minutes Kristen arrived.

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We talked about frames and work, New York, and finally where to eat. Due to Zoë’s IBS, and the mom’s lactose intolerance; finding a place to eat takes some deliberation. Luckily there is an amazing sushi place called Ruby Foo's about a block from the hotel. We shared many rolls, calamari, swapped stories, and eventually found out that Kristen is a gangster. Dub wheels, chrome grilled Cadillac’s, intense jewelry, the whole shebang. It was pretty fantastic.

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Since it was also the mom’s birthday, Kristen gave her a beautiful crystal necklace with a gold M on it.

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After dinner we were all pretty knackered out, parted ways, and we started to think about what we were going to do the next day. That was far easier than the decision on where to go to dinner; double-decker bus attack. Yeah sure it is the super touristy thing to do, but what the hell. You cover a lot of the city in a short amount of time, remember your favorite spots, and then spend you time there instead of hopelessly wandering.

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After we got on the bus our tour guide was so quick with his explanations that we never really caught anything that he said. Our stint with him was thankfully short, and we got off in Greenwich Village to grab some food. We walked around for a bit, fell even more so in love with New York, especially this area, and found this great Vegetarian place called Gobo. I personally love veggie burgers and seeing as I usually get one whenever they are available, I instantly ordered that with a nice cup of hot black tea. The burger came with yam fries, and that idea didn’t sit to well with me. But like most everything I give it at least 7 tries to make sure that I didn’t like it. I was blown away at how delicious they were after the first bite.

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After the delightful lunch we continued around Greenwich Village and found our first bit of street vendors selling soaps, clothes, and scarves. I broke the law and stood where I wasn’t aloud to stand and Zoë and the mom smelled some soap.

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We continued south through Greenwich Village and ended up in Soho, and even more so I fell in love with the city. In all honesty I was hoping to run into the sartorialist while I was there, as he does take quite a few photos around this area. I later found out that he was in Vegas the weekend that I was in NY, horrible. None-the-less it was still nice to roam around and look into all the boutique shops and gloss over the highly priced street vendors.

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And then boom, TopShop. Apart from just experiencing New York's greatness, TopShop was one of 2 places that I did not want to miss. I strolled in, peeked around, and searched for a trench coat. I did find a trench that fit well, but I wasn’t prepared to spend $160 ($190 after slight alterations) on a coat just yet; I was hoping to find a Fauxberry jacket.

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After our browsing we made our way to the bus stop and hopped back on to continue the tour. This guide was far superior to the last. We got off at the Rockefeller Center because Zoe wanted to get a present for one of her friend's little sisters. While this is cute and all, we had to go into an extremely weird place called the American Girl Place. Zoë used to have an American Girl, so I am aware of what is involved, and I was recently in one of these so I was mentally prepared for what was to come but uggh. It is just crazy, they had pets, matching garments for you and your doll, crutches, casts, wheel chairs, you name it was there. Our time there seemed longer than it was, but the gift that Zoë got was quite cute.

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That evening Zoë and the mom had tickets to go see Billy Elliot, and since I missed the ticket purchase in the afternoon I figured that I would spend the night on the town: coffee, dinner, and jazz. It took me awhile to actually plan out where I was going to go, and in which direction I was going to head in. And so I made my way to The Coffee Pot for a cup of hot coffee. The coffee was good, and because it wasn’t crazy famous the seating was comfortable and ample.

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After the coffee I made my way to 9th avenue in the direction of a Middle Eastern place that got some good reviews. Unfortunately when I got there the place was no bigger than a shoe box and was quite full. Instead of waiting I continued on and figured that I would stop whenever something struck my interest. While I was walking a guy struck up a conversation by asking whether I was a tourist or a photographer. We started talking about random topics and he told me about a great Indian place across the street. I thanked him for his advice and proceeded to Basera. Wow, was I surprised. The garlic naan there is something of dreams. The saag paneer, although not the greatest I have ever had, was defiantly in the top 4. To top it all off it was extremely affordable.

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After dinner I made my down the street in the direction of the Birdland Jazz bar. However I was distracted by another bar playing jazz; Vintage. The place was dark, and the music was mellow so I figured that this would be a great place to stop for now. I ordered up a John Rambo, and started to just relax into the music.

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A few minutes later, a couple that I was sitting next to started a conversation with me in the same way that the guy I met on the street "are you a tourist or a photographer?" I responded in the same manner as the last time I was asked; a little of both. Our conversation was light hearted, and they were very informative about the living circumstances in New York. Shortly after the band stopped playing they left and we parted ways. The night was still young and I wanted more jazz. I finished my drink and made my way back in the direction of Times Square. I needed to make a quick stop in the room, to unload the pictures of the camera, as well as my bladder. I checked the directions one more time, and in the process I figured that I should check out a closer venue called the Iridium Jazz Club.

Since it was only a couple of blocks up the street I figured that I would at least be able to peek on in see how the band was playing and if I didn’t like it move onto Birdland. When I got to the door I was stopped and asked if I was on the guest list. I shrugged and responded no, but can I still buy tickets? They said that I could but I just have to wait about 20 minutes for the set to end, then I could head down. 20 minutes wasn’t that long so I walked around a bit more and eventually made my way back 25 minutes later. I asked if I could head down, and she said that they are just about finished, head back in 15. I walked around a bit more, got myself another coffee and tried again. Almost done with the set, give it another 15. I made my way back to the hotel, got myself a gin and tonic, and after 20 minutes I made my way back to the venue. They just finished and they are about to clean up so come back in 30. Fuck this game. At this point I gave up. So I made my way back to the room to start deleting the bad photographs that I took.

Once I got in the room I heard gun shots.

I froze for a sec, not really sure that they were indeed gunshots. Then they came again and again, and I strolled to the window to see if anyone was fleeing. Nope. People were just walking. In the street directly below though, the people were staring, and some were taking photographs. So I threw on my coat, grabbed my camera, and made my way to street level. I walked outside to see a heard of American ricers in their SRT-4s. Hahahaha. The sound of their cars bouncing on the rev limiter sounded horrid, but when it bounced off the walls of the skyscrapers it sounded hilarious.

After that I went back upstairs to see Zoë in bed, and I asked if the mom was downstairs; she was. So I made my way down to the bar and ordered myself another John Rambo and as a thank you and birthday treat, I bought her a couple drinks. After some talk of the musical we went back up and talked to Zoë about what we were going to do the next day. The plan was to head into SoHo, and then Canal Street.

We woke up, got back on the double-decker and got off at Canal Street. Ridiculous. The mumbles of "Rolex, Rolex, Rolex," and "Louis, Prada, Gucci, Coach" were on the tip of everyone's lips. It was quite amusing, and at one point scary when I lost track of Zoë and the mom; but all was well. We meandered through the street looking into shops picking up some Prada, Cartiernt (car-tea-aint), Mofauxdo (Moe-faw-doe), and other excellent knockoffs; the Louis Vuitton bag that the mom found was indistinguishable from the real thing. To top it all off while we were in front of a shop looking at the super-illegal goods they closed everything down in a rush, police raid! But the police shortly left and then things went back to normal.

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After a full day of bartering with the shop owners we got some stuff to eat and discussed what to do next. Zoë and the mom wanted to see if they could get tickets to another musical so they wanted to head back to Times Square. I, on the other hand, really wanted to take a further look into TopShop and go into Uniqlo. Since public transportation was so good, and the girls were going to be taking the double-decker back to the hotel we agreed to part ways, and I would get back to the hotel at 730, to make sure that I was there for the musical.

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TopShop was still great, but Uniqlo was amazing. American Apparel has nothing on Uniqlo's $4.90 v-necks. I continued on Broadway stopping in some more shops, found a huge wine goblet for the mom in CB2, and tried to catch the last double-decker of the evening. I guess when the guide told us that if we were standing at the sign before 6:45 we would be able to catch the last round; unfortunately, he really meant 5:45. But it wasn’t a big deal. I found the nearest subway entrance and was at the hotel within 6 minutes. I love public transport and the subways even more so.

When I got back to the room, the girls wanted me to get some vodka and club soda. I went to the concierge to see where the closest liquor store was located. Unbeknownst to me, in New York there are very few liquor stores that are open on Sunday nights past 8pm. luckily he was able to find one about 5 blocks away in a shop called 9th Avenue Vintners that was open until 9. I made my way over to the shop, and if I had more time I would have looked further into their collection, but I was on a mission. I Picked up the vodka, then went down the street to the corner market and picked up some limes and soda.

I love the fact that you can just walk within a 6 block radius in New York, find everything that you need.

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The last day that we were in New York the only thing that we wanted to accomplish was to see the Statue of Liberty with our own eyes; didn’t need to get super close, we just wanted to see it. We hopped on a subway and stopped in Greenwich Village to see if the soap lady was still there, but she wasn’t. We made our way though another street and happened upon a little cafe called Borgia. After our light breakfast we walked around a bit more, Zoë and the mom wanted to check out Uniqlo, and its awesome inexpensive goods, and shortly there after got back on the subway to finally get to the Statue of Liberty.

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All in all it was a great trip. I will definitely have to go back soon as I missed so many museums, and didn’t see a single Broadway show. Then again with tickets only costing $200 for a round trip, I don’t see why it wont happen sooner than later, just need to find a travel partner to cut expenses.

-'till next time

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