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Sunday, 13 July 2014

What to do or rather what I did in New York this June

Had a splendid time in New York, as usual. Being in the city that never sleeps always puts me on a high, despite the extreme time difference.

Because there are SO MANY THINGS TO DO HERE!

Hello it's the city that never sleeps so obviously there are tons of things to do, even late into the night.

I was here for merely two days due to a work trip but I sure didn't waste a single minute.

Let me warn you first that this will be a lengthy post bombarded by pictures but what's a travelogue without pictures???

If you're planning a trip to New York, I'd strongly advise you to stay on Times Square. Yes, accommodations are bound to be mad pricey and ridiculously small or even old and run-down, but Times Square is where all the action is and where you'd be if you're a tourist. Public transport is rather convenient but a single trip fare can still cost you quite a bit when accumulated.

My recommendation would be Distrikt Hotel.

Found them on TripAdvisor when Simon and I went to NYC for a vacation and decided on them out of the thousands of choices available. I must say that they truly lived up to their reputation, ranked #16 and 96% thumbs-up!

Staff were more than helpful when Simon planned a surprised for me by checking in without me. The manager helped him to trick me while he went up to lay handwritten cards on the bed and I sat at the lobby the entire time.

They were friendly every single day that we were there but the best part of a hotel isn't the staff, it's how comfortable and clean and well-located they are. Definitely thumbs-up.

Shall do a separate and more detailed post for our US vacation next time!

Back to my June trip to NYC.

First thing I did upon stepping foot on Times Square.


Shake Shack (Theatre District)
691 8th Avenue
Between 8th and 44th Street

Opening Hours:
Opened daily from 11am to Midnight

Just as short walk from Times Square!

My all-time favourite Shack Stack burger with the Cheese fries. I'll order these and nothing else every single time I'm there. I love the mushroom in the Shack Stack burger, (which is the 'Shroom Burger btw) but I always want meat with everything so the Shack Stack is perfect for me. Cheeseburger, topped with mushroom!

To be honest, KFC's cheese fries wins this hands down. But I'll still order it them anyway because hey, the queue at Shake Shack is MAD LONG.

It is so long that it extends all the way out of the joint, not to mention the zig-zag line that starts from inside the place.
Well, even after paying for your burger, they hand a buzzer, (repeat buzzer, not burger) and the wait continues. Bleh.

The queue moves pretty fast though, approximately 15 mins wait in the day? And the buzzer takes about another 10 to 15 mins. That's not very fast for a fast food joint huh?

At night when the shows on Broadway end, you'll have a stream of hungry people going to Shake Shack and that's when you might want to consider eating something else.

Happy me with my burger! =) Shake Shack anytime baby.

Esthee The Explorer's Verdict: 

Eat it! Even if there's a bloody long queue. Queue for it! 
If you're a junk food lover that is. If not, you'll just be wasting your time and cursing me for it later on. 

Satisfied with lunch, I headed straight to TKTS to check out what's on discount for Broadway later on at night.

TKTS on Times Square

Located "under the red steps" in Father Duffy Square at Broadway and 47th Street

Opening Hours: 

For Evening Performances:
Monday: 3:00pm - 8:00pm
Thursday: 3:00pm - 8:00pm
Friday: 3:00pm - 8:00pm
Saturday: 3:00pm - 8:00pm

 For Matinee Performances:
Wednesday:10:00am - 2:00pm
Saturday:10:00am - 2:00pm
Sunday:11:00am - 3:00pm

Here's a board showing what shows are on discount on the same day. On some days some musicals are on sale, on some days they're not. Sometimes a certain musical is on 20% off, and on another day it could be 40%. It all depends on how well tickets are doing for that show on that day.

Musicals/plays on TKTS could go up to 50% off.

So if you are in Times Square bent on watching a particular musical/play, you might want to purchase your ticket in advance for it might not be available if you choose to buy it on the same day.

There's another line that will lead you to a counter that sells full-priced tickets, so make sure you join the right line!

The massive amount of people here is no joke. Do ask around before joining a line, you don't want to be wasting time being in the wrong line.

There was once my Singaporean-kiasu spirit told me to just join the line and I ended up being in the line for full-priced tickets when I wanted the discounted ones. :(

There'll be people standing around giving you advice on what's good and what to expect. I suspect these chaps have so much love for Broadway that they are really just there to volunteer, but I'm not sure.
I mean, they're just there standing in the sun giving out pamphlets on various shows and chatting with us! They'd just approach and ask you what you're catching and if you haven't decided, they'll ask you what you like and recommend you something. I don't think they're doing publicity for any particular show because they'll recommend anything!

We really wanted to watch Wicked but it wasn't available so our next option was Aladdin which sadly, also wasn't available. So I decided to go for Kinky Boots and this guy told us that the ladies will love it but not so much for the gentlemen cos it's all about drag queens. (unless you're a guy and you're into such stuff then I guess you'll enjoy it)

Our guy friend August decided to give it a try anyway!
(He enjoyed the show though. Either the show was very good, or he is one who appreciates theatre, or well, he just enjoyed it. haha )

Read about my experience at Kinky Boots in a separate post here.

Went on to take mandatory touristy photos at Times Sqaure.

I've taken photos here like a zillion times but I still do it everytime I'm here.
It's like a must-do tourist thing, haha.

See fake Minnie Mouse photo-bombing me. So irritating loh, these mascots. Some of their costumes don't even look authentic and they keep coming up to you pestering you to take photos with them.


I don't know how much they charge, but I've seen them running after people who snapped photos of them.

Decided to change location because they were so irritating!

Upskirt Marilyn Monroe moment, wtf! Thank god, no outrage of modesty.


Ok finally a decent one but fat white truck behind ruined my picture. My photographer August was getting annoyed at my "imperfect" shots so I spared him the agony of having to take another shot.

Went on to have Totto Ramen afterwards.

Read about my experience in a separate post here.

After lunch activity was back to Broadway for Cinderella - The Musical.

I know I talk about nothing but muscials but I can't help it! It's what I chose to do over shopping or sight-seeing for this trip.

Thank god for Eunice for being such a sporting companion throughout the trip!

Poor Cinderella indeed, promoting her own show and giving out pamphlets on the streets! (no she wasn't the one playing Cinderella of course)

Ticket priced at 84 USD each and seated at Orchestra! We had a great view of the stage. :)

Reached the theater early so we had time to take some pictures.

Even had time to take picture with the iconic yellow school bus! Which btw ferried hordes of school children who flooded the area shortly after. Thank god I took pictures before they arrived.

Finally seated and eager for the show to start!

Esthee The Critic. hahaha
Why does my hair look like Severus Snape's except that it's parted at the side. #badhairday

Told ya our view was fantastic!

It was a good deal, considering we got our tickets from TKTS and that's pretty last minute. The show was absolutely Disney material and I enjoyed it mainly due to our good seats and the fact that I'm a die-hard Disney freak.

Esthee The Explorer's Verdict:

I thought Paige Faure who playd Ella had good vocals but she sorta lacked the bimbotic overly feminine aspect atypical of the classic Disney princess.
I guess she couldn't conceal her true talent.

Victoria Clark who played the Fairy Godmother was mother @*^%#@%$@#*%@(# DARN GOOD.
Pardon my language but that's how good she was! She brought the house down, I'm telling you.

Best part of the show: The gown changing that happened in a split second. Despite the numerous times it happened right in front of my eyes, I still couldn't catch how she did it. If anyone knows, would you please enlighten me?

After the show Eunice and I wanted to have a drink and I found this on the web. Jimmy's Corner seems like a nice place for drinks, frequently visited by locals.

We didn't go to Jimmy's eventually but mental note to self to try this out next time.

Let me know if you've been to Jimmy's Corner and what you think of it alright!

Ellen's Stardust Diner

1650 Broadway
New York, NY10019

Opening Hours:
7am - 12am

I was quite hungry so we went for Stardust instead. Food and alcoholic beverages, coupled with entertainment, why not?

Their menu turned out to be pretty extensive, which was not what I expected. And it also turns out that their food was pretty good too!

I ordered the Philly Cheesesteak which was sliced steak, sautéed onions, peppers, mush- rooms, melted mozzarella on a homemade hero, with waffle fries.

Ultra yummy and too big a portion even for a hungry me. Couldn't get enough of the waffle fries though!

Everything else on the menu, as well as food served on other tables looked amazing too, i had a really hard time deciding. 

They also have alcoholic drinks which was what I was craving for. Hehe

I ordered this Peppermint Shake with vodka or gin, I can't remember which. Tasted good at first but it turned weird after a few more sips. I ended up forcing myself to drink more.

Not recommended! Bleh.

Lighting at Ellen's Stardust, as you can see, is pretty bad. Not good for the jet-lagged like us because we ended up heavy-headed most of the time.

If not for the entertainment from the staff, we'd have finished our food fast and escaped the sleepy spell the place casted asap!

Check out my instavid of the talented staff at Stardust.

These are waiters/waitresses who basically take turns to perform but they still do a pretty decent job when they're serving you. I suppose they're aspiring Broadway stars who are trying to make extra cash waitressing at Stardust?

But don't expect much out of the service because after all, none of them are really there to waitress. 

There was a guy who did say so before he went around the tables with a bucket asking you to "donate" to their Broadway aspiration fund. He'd go around with the bucket, jiggling a tambourine so it's kinda stressful when he stops by you with the money bucket in your face. I gave one buck because I was planning to tip my waiter more later.

So if you're planning on visiting Ellen's Stardust, I've warned you about that!

Esthee The Explorer's Verdict:

Overall I'll still recommend Ellen's Stardust though. It's a unique experience with entertainment and pretty good food.

Someone mentioned before that it's like a loud karaoke place but surely you knew what you were signing up for when you walked into that place?
So I really can't understand that complaint.

Human beings, seriously. #facepalm

I enjoyed the food!

Ended my night with shopping on Times Square afterwards!

Check out how crowded Times Square was, even though it was close to midnight. Some shops close at 2am?! WTF, the hole it burned in my pocket. :(

Thank god for being jet lagged, or I'd have spent even more if I had the energy to continue shopping. T.T

Next morning was breakfast at Evergreen Diner.

145 W 47th St (between 47th Street and 6th Ave)
Manhattan, NY 10036
United States

Opening Hours:
Sunday 6:00 am – 2:00 pm
Monday 6:30 am – 7:00 pm
Tuesday 6:30 am – 7:00 pm
Wednesday 6:30 am – 7:00 pm
Thursday 6:30 am – 7:00 pm
Friday 6:30 am – 7:00 pm
Saturday 6:00 am – 2:00 pm

Evergreen Diner is an unpretentious diner that serves pretty good food. I didn't take many pictures but I truly enjoyed my breakfast there. Will definitely go back another time.

Bought my much desired cheesecake from Magnolia Bakery!

Check out my review on Magnolia Bakery in a separate post here.

Also bought my favourite takeaway of all time!

The Halal Guys' Chicken & Lamb Over Rice

Check out my separate post here.

I guess this rounds up my 2 day trip to NYC in June 2014.

Boring much?

Sorry it turned out to be so lengthy but I tried my best to section them into different posts. 

I hope that I'd recommended a few useful things for you to do when in Times Square. I shall continue to update as I visit here again in future. 

I aim to actively share my experiences with others through my blog.

Do comment below if you have any places to suggest and I'd be MORE THAN HAPPY to try them out! :D

Thank you for reading. :D