A Better Byrd is in town

#BetterBloggerSp Event

 

Last week I was invited to a special blogger event hosted by Better Byrd before their grand opening. Better Byrd is a new restaurant by Ciccio Restaurant Group, and I have to admit that I'm already a BIG fan of a lot of their other restaurants. I frequent Fresh Kitchen, and I had been following the progress of the restaurant next door .... patiently anticipating the announcement of what was to come. Imagine my surprise when I found out the restaurant would be home to Better Byrd, who would be serving both chicken AND doughnuts!

SmokeyByrd 

SmokeyByrd 

StrawByrdie Bowl

StrawByrdie Bowl

IslandByrd

IslandByrd

Needless to say, I absolutely loved it. I got to taste a lot of the menu items at the event, my favorite being the Brussels Bowl and the Bacon Sriracha Queso Fries. Oh ... and I can't forget the watermelon lemonade (pictured on the last photo) ... that stuff is BOMB. Seriously, I had about 5 glasses of it at the event! 

Truffle Garlic Parm Fries

Truffle Garlic Parm Fries

Mural by Badonkzart

Mural by Badonkzart

I absolutely love this place, so much that I've been back twice for lunch. I haven't tried their brunch ...but yes, they also have brunch items! So next time you're in St. Pete, check Better Byrd, let me know what you think!

SHINE Mural Festival

SAINT PETERSBURG, FL

27.7518° N, 82.6267° W

 

The Shine On St. Pete Mural Festival just wrapped up it's second year and it was so amazing to see this city come alive with so much color. All of the artist, both local and international, are so incredibly talented. I loved making my way through St. Pete, chatting with the artist, and watching these beautiful works of art unfold before my eyes in such a massive scale. 

I'm constantly in awe of this city ... we are so incredibly lucky to witness the art culture explore and thrive here. Of course, I didn't include pictures of finished murals because you're just going to have to visit St. Petersburg and see them for yourself. Head over to  Shineonstpete.com for a map of  all of the mural locations. Enjoy! 

#UOInstameet 2016

Universal Studios Orlando

28.4743° N, 81.4678° W

 

Disclamer: This post will probably have a lot of Harry Potter references *fan girl face*

I first heard of the Harry Potter Books when I was in 4th grade. I was in class, and for some reason one of our assistant principals was reading "The Chamber of Secrets", which is the second Harry Potter book. I knew very minimal english at the time, and I listened intently to this book and tried with everything I had to understand it. It wasn't until a year later that I truly learned how to read english. I finally, very slowly, read my way through the first Harry Potter book. That was the first time I knew I could travel in time and space by reading a book. It opened a new universe and helped me escape the whole "immigration to the United States" thing for a while. 

 

That is why I love this series so much. When I was 10 years old I was thrown into a world completely unknown to me. In the books, Harry is too. He was thrown into a completely new world of magic, no friends, no family ... a complete stranger to everything around him. I formed a deep connection with this story because of this little link between Harry and I. 

Fast forward 16 years later, and I get an invitation to photograph both Universal and Island of Adventure, after closing, with a select handful of the most talented photographers in the area. To say I was excited, is a HUGE understatement. We had both parks completely to ourselves, and the most important part ... BOTH Harry Potter areas ... completely... EMPTY. I mean, these two areas are so well made, they transport you to the books immediately after walking in. During normal park hours, the magic is somewhat broken with the crowds and the Florida heat. So you can imagine how much I was flipping out walking around with only about 8 other people. 

I have to say, it was a bit eery, specially after daylight had gone. I was mostly stumbling around in disbelief the whole time. The streets glittered from the rain earlier, the Harry Potter music from the movies was still playing in the background, the shops in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade still had the moving elements, and the dragon at Gringotts still roared, just for us. It was extremely surreal, and magical. 

Picture by Kayla Surico, one of the talented photographers at this meet. 

Picture by Kayla Surico, one of the talented photographers at this meet. 

I can't thank Universal Studios enough for this opportunity. Walking through the empty streets of these parks was something I will remember and treasure of the rest of my life.  I'll leave some more photos of this experience below for your enjoyment! Make sure you look through the #UOInstameet tag in instagram for more pictures by some really talented folks, and check out this neat little article by Universal Studios about the meet. 

WWIM13

St. Petersburg, FL & Tampa, FL

27°46'18.1"N 82°38'31.2"W27°53'21.5"N 82°28'50.4"W

This past weekend was Instagram's 13th World Wide Instameet, and as always, Jimmy and I attempted to go to as many meets as possible. All together we were able to attend 3 of the 5 meets that were being held in our area. If you have never been to an intameet, or are unfamiliar with an instameet, it's a chance to get to know people you interact with on instagram. My first instameet was  (approximately) 2012 in Tampa. Some of the people I met at that meet are still in my life today, and we have been mutually supportive of each others photography. I talk about these meets with people that are not involved in Instagram, and I always seem to get the same reaction. I get a weird look, or a question about if it's weird hanging out with people I only know online. My answer is always no, I have never felt unsafe or unwelcomed. Yes, a bit awkward at my first meets, but as my friendships grew over time, these meets felt more like home. A space where I can share ideas, meet people with the same passion, be inspired, and ultimately create some really cool photographs.  

Instagram has changed my life, it has opened doors, it has given me the power to share my work across states and countries. The most valuable things I have obtained from this app are the relationships I have gained.  I can tell you countless stories about the amount of love and kindness people have shown me in Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa, St. Pete and Gainesville. All of this kindness from people I have discovered through Instagram. Not to mention Jimmy made his first appearance into my life at an Instameet. 

@_nikki_hunter_ at IgersStPete 600 Block instameet   

@_nikki_hunter_ at IgersStPete 600 Block instameet 

 

Group shot of IgersTampa Sunrise and clean-up meet

Group shot of IgersTampa Sunrise and clean-up meet

To see more moments from last weekends meets, make sure you check out #IgersbytheBay on Instagram. Also, I attended an instameet at Universal Studios. If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen some of the pictures. I will post all about that meet soon *excited face* !!