Michelle's Musings

Monday, August 3, 2015

Review: The Empire Hotel in New York City

The Empire Hotel

Empire Hotel in New York at Night

A Review for One of the "Luxury" Hotels in New York City

I booked a room at The Empire Hotel, one of the "four star" hotels in New York City through Priceline Express. You can find cheap hotels deals on this site by buying your reservations without knowing which hotel you're actually staying in until after you pay. Sounds a bit scary but with the right research/friends (Thanks Candace!) you can guess the hotel before you actually buy it. 

The Empire Hotel is a swanky hotel located on the Upper West Side/Lincoln Center. Conveniently located a block away from the 66th St/Lincoln Center subway stop (1 train) and two blocks away from 59t/Columbus Circle stop (A, B, C, 1 train). 

We arrived to our hotel in New York before our check in time (3pm). Luckily, they were able to hold our luggage for free while we explored the area. Unfortunately, we did not get our room until an hour or two after our designated time (3pm).
Lobby of the Empire Hotel in New York City
The elevators were tiny. The lobby, bar and mezzanine seemed fancy. Some of you may recognize The Empire hotel from the popular show Gossip Girl. (Chuck Bass "bought" the hotel and the hotel was featured frequently). This New York hotel also features a pretty small rooftop pool with a lounge/bar area with an amazing view. 

Rooftop View of the Empire Hotel in New York
The room and bathroom were very small (typical for NY). The room came with a desk, dresser, closet space and cable TV. There was also a mini-fridge in the room stocked with over-priced travel-size drinks. The hotel charged a ridiculously fee to clear out the contents of the fridge so we were unable to refrigerate any drinks or snacks (that we bought at a nearby Duanne Reade/Walgreens.

The shower was clean and the bed comfortable. We had a window with a terrible view of a brick wall.   

Overall: I would not pay full price ($400+) for this "four star" hotel in New York City. It was highly conveniently located. If you find the right deal, The Empire Hotel in New York City is definitely worth it.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

7 Best Apps to Use While Studying or Traveling Abroad

vodaphone travel apps study abroad
My lovely study abroad roommate modeling her new Vodaphone in Dublin.

1. Viber
Viber and Whatsapp are useful apps to communicate with your friends and family at home and around the world. 

Viber is great to text and call friends from home and abroad for free (and they have the cutest emojis!). Make sure you don't delete the app once you're abroad because you need an activation code from you phone provider to activate the app.

2. WhatsApp
It's more commonly used in Europe and I only used it to text when friends didn't have Viber. Viber and Whatsapp are useful apps to communicate with your friends and family at home and around the world. 

3. TripAdvisor and TripAdvisor City Guides
Both apps incredibly useful and convenient when you can't carry guide books. The City Guides app even works offline so it's perfect when you're roaming around the city with no Wifi. TripAdvisor is the perfect and easy site to plan your trips.

4. Airlines
I found it very useful to download the United Airlines app. Whatever airlines you're using, I strongly encourage you to download the app to confirm and check your flight status/tickets.

giants causeway ireland travel abroad study
Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland
5. Dropbox
If you're anything like me, you'll take hundreds of pictures and videos. Dropbox helps to backup your documents and keeping your storage free. There's nothing worse than getting a full storage notification just when you're about to take a magnificent picture of the Eight Wonder of the World. 

6. Spotify
I was able to listen to Spotify (but not Pandora) in Ireland. Spotify also makes it easy to keep track of the new songs you encounter abroad.

7. Wikipedia
There's nothing worse than being in an amazing building, neighborhood, or museum and not knowing the history and other information that may not be available. I loved using the Wikipedia app to access more information about the places and attractions I was going to visit. (The WikiTravel site is also great to utilize when planning trips and learning more about the city).

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Quick Guide to Making It Happen: International Women's Day 2015

                                Image Source: International Women's Day

Seven ways you can help make the world a little bit better.
                                     Image Source: U.N. Women

1. Immerse yourself in the lives of courageous, intelligent, rebellious women who  fought gender roles to improve society.
                             Image Source: Films for Action

2. Learn about current gender inequalities happening all over the world including the U.S.
Suggested reading21 Facts You Never Knew About International Gender Inequality published by Makers.
                                    Image Source: Beijing 20-U.N. Women

3. Question the status quo and speak out against machismo and rape culture

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book Review: Girls in White Dresses

                               Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

                                               Photo Source: Goodreads

Plot: Follow along the "trials and tribulations" of a group of twenty-something women who primarily living in NYC.

Reality: Although the first few stories did offer stimulating situations, the book fell short to my expectations. As a twenty-something recent grad, I failed to fall in love with any of the 5+ frequent female characters that appeared throughout the book. The women go through common experiences for 20 somethings including great/annoying/lost friendships, crappy jobs, unemployment, love, heartbreak, drunken nights, weddings, pregnancies etc.

I wish the author further explored the desire for when to compare themselves with other women and the expectation women have of "having it all". The author somewhat explored the theme of living in NYC and Chicago but I wish it was more prevalent throughout the book. Make me fall in love with the City. In general, the book failed to stir passion or excitement for me.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blissfully Seeking Adventure

This fall 2013 I will be embarking on an adventure of lifetime. I will be living, studying and interning in Dublin, Ireland. Follow my adventures, stories and tips abroad by reading my blog! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Music Monday: We Are Love [Deluxe Editition]

I have fallen in love with this album. With 17 amazing songs to chose from. I strongly suggest you splurge on the deluxe edition. I ordered mine from Barnes and Noble's website. it is simply amazing. Honestly, I had some doubts on their new music. Their previous album set very high standards yet they did not disappoint. Their songs come in FOUR languages! Italian, Spanish, English and a song in German. Piero, Gianluca and Ignazio are multi-talented. 

Their voices are so sweet yet powerful. Even when I don't fully understand some of their Italian songs, the tone and melody take you to another world. You feel the powerful emotions of the lyrics. Seriously, some of these songs take my breathe away. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Things I Learned: Il Volo takes Flight [Chicago Concert]

Amazing. That is the only word that describes the Il Volo concert I attended at the Chicago Theater on August 22, 2012. It was one of 28 cities in the Il Volo Takes Flight North American Tour. Actually, the words wonderful, phenomenal, and best-concert-ever also come to mind. And to think Piero Barone 18, Ignazio Borschetto 17 and Gianluca Ginoble 16, are only teeangers. The tri-lingual (Italian, English, Spanish) singing Italian superstars have come along way in short period of time. 

1. Opera has never sounded this good.
Il Volo's music is a combination of Opera and Pop. The three teenage tenors have amazing voices. It is unbelievable that they can make people who may not be fond  

2.  I must learn Italian soon. 
Il Volo's music and lyrics are so beautiful and full of meaning. They mostly sing in Italian but they also have songs in English and Spanish. Although there are many Italian to English translations of the lyrics, I know I'm not capturing the full meaning of the songs. Therefore, I want to learn to at least gain a better understanding of their Italian songs. My favorite Italian song is Un Amore Cosi' Grande. Luckily, I am fluent in Spanish so I can have full appreciation for their Spanish songs like my favorite, El Reloj.  

3. Twitter is a wonderful place to win free concert tickets.
As soon as my younger sister mention seeing Il Volo on the amrquee of the Chicago Theater, I went on Twitter. I saw a tweet by Ferrarelle USA, the sponsor of the tour. They tweeted they were giving a way a pair of free tickets that night's show. Obviously, I tweeted them ASAP. Luckily, I won amazing seats for the Il Volo concert. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Jessie Spano Effect

The first time the concept of feminism developed in my mind was at the age of ten. It occurred during the sitcom “Saved by the Bell”. As trivial as that show may have been, it taught me my first lesson on feminism. Jessie Spano, a character on the show as self-proclaimed feminist. In her own way, she fought for women’s right. At times she did contradict her beliefs. She was considered a bit eccentric by the other characters (even her friends), and she would have been considered a fraud by the fans of “true” feminists like those of bell hooks.  Regardless, Jessie’s constant need to proclaim gender equality and a need to stop the “sexist pigs” from dominating their female counterparts became a reassuring feeling to myself that men are not superior to women. Being female does not make me lower than a male. Society does not have the right to force me to do or believe things because I am not male. Growing up in a culture where male dominance was acceptable, this concept encouraged me to confront the status quo (in my own personal way). 

While many viewers believe Jessie Spano made feminism taboo, I became empowered by it. As a 6th grader, I demanded for equal playing time for boys’ and girls’ soccer games during gym class. I occasionally wore my “Girls’ Rights” tee shirt, called boys “sexists pigs” when they insulted my knowledge on baseball and got in a few fights with boys who tried to belittle me during school. As I got older, I learned about the negative perceptions of feminism and retracted from that concept. I have been in constant debates with myself as I still seek to find my true meaning of feminism and how it can improve gender inequality and self-esteem in women. In my own way, I still fight for women’s right; I have new role models but the same belief is still there. But I will never forget Jessie Spano’s ever-present battle for feminism.