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All the nieces and nephews on my side of the family — Nico, Ava, Lydia, Leigh, Jasmine, Jamal, and Molly

Summer in New York gets hot and muggy. So it was nice that we had planned a 3-week summer “vacation” in Greece nearly a year ago. We planned the trip around a week-long family get together for my immediate family — my parents, their four kids, their spouses, and all seven grandchildren. Jim and I added a week onto each end on our own.

For many years we’ve said that our favorite country to travel in is Italy. But during this sojourn in Greece, we seriously discussed whether Greece has overtaken Italy as our favorite. Greek islands are about as close to heaven as it gets. Who needs anything more than a perfect taverna on a bright blue stretch of Mediterranean beach?

And every Greek island has its own personality. We made it to four islands in the Cyclades on this trip, and we loved every one of them.

Paros

Our first stop was the island of Paros, where we stayed in the lovely town of Naoussa at the northern tip of the island. The town just reeked with charm. We’d easily get lost in the narrow streets full of great restaurants, elegant outdoor bars, and appealing shops.

One of many amazing bars in the charming town of Naoussa

From Naoussa, you could hop a water taxi to a handful of beaches across the bay

Arriving at a beach by water taxi. Oh that water!

Did I mention the water?

I am very happy in Greece

Approaching the town again by water ferry after a morning at the beach

A seaside lunch spot on Naoussa town

Mykonos

Mykonos (and Santorini) are different from the other Cycladic islands. Each is incredible in its own way, but they are both considerably more touristy, crowded, and expensive than all the other islands. But it was a good choice for our family get together for a few reasons.

First, it’s hard to find a really nice rental house that can accommodate 17 people without anybody being stuck in a crappy room. I scored by finding a pair of houses with common outdoor spaces and two beautiful pools in a very nice part of Mykonos. Second, Mykonos is relatively easy to get to, with direct flights coming from various parts of Europe. And finally, there are so many beaches to visit for all flavors of tourists. Nobody is going to be bored here.

The place worked out well, and I’m confident everyone had a great week here. It’s the second year in a row that we got all 17 of us together (Tuscany last summer). And I consider myself quite fortunate because I really like every one of these wonderful people. I know that Jim and I had a great time this week, and I’m pretty confident we all did.

Me and the glorious views from our villa

There was lots of fun to be had on the day we discovered that you could sip Metaxa in the pool.

With my fabulous sisters-in-law, Jenny and Alma

Lunch with my parents at a taverna on a beautiful beach in a remote corner of Mykonos

With my sister Jeanne

The Ann Arbor Sullivans — Molly, Jenny, Pat, and Lydia

One day most of us drove to a beach a half hour away. But Jim and Jenny decided to hike there. It was apparently somewhat treacherous.

Nico and I and our very Greeky shirts

Dinner at the villa was a fine affair every evening

Our chef displays the evening’s catch

Leigh and I trying to lure a sweet little kitten onto our patio

Lydia at an elegant lunch spot over the beach close to our villa

The San Francisco Sullivans — Nico, Jasmine, John, Alma, and Ava

A hug from my mother!

Tinos

A short ferry hop from Mykonos took us to the island of Tinos. Here we stayed at hotel up in the mountains near a tiny little town called Triantaros. The town only had a couple restaurants, but they were truly gems. During the day, we hiked about an hour to get from the town down to a beach. It was a really beautiful hike, if you can overlook the part where Jim got stung by a wasp.

At a charming, but unassuming little restaurant in little Triantaros village…

…where we were amazed by the quality of the food.

And this was my seat mate at that place!

The view from the restaurant out toward the sea

Charming decor

Oh. My. God.

Syros

Yet another short ferry ride took us to the glorious island of Syros. Here we stayed in the main port town called Ermoupoli. This elegant town serves as the capital of the Cyclades, and perhaps for that reason seemed less touristy and more like a real city than most Greek island cities.

On our first full day here we decided to take a taxi to a particular beach a half hour away. We rode out of town and up, up, up a mountain, with beautiful views, and then descended down, down, down to a tiny beach town. The beach was calm and lovely. And nearby was a restaurant with great reviews — though some reviewers criticized the place as awfully expensive. With some reluctance we decided to try it anyway.

We love Greek food in general, but the food here was extraordinary — way beyond what you expect at a seaside taverna in a little town. And not that expensive really — cheaper than anything in Mykonos!

What did we do on days two, three, four, and five here in Syros? Made the same drive over the mountain, to the same postcard-perfect little beach, and ate at the same incredible restaurant. When you find perfection, why mess with it?

For some reason we have very few photos from Syros, but this shot of a calamari dish we ordered at our lunch spot pretty well sums it up

And let’s close out with one more shot of that kitten from Tinos

Happy WorldPride!

Like I said, lots of rainbows everywhere in New York this month

People like to visit New York. We didn’t travel at all in June, but we saw lots of friends and family. And somehow stayed very busy. We did plenty of cultural things. We started seriously shopping for furniture for our new condo. And we continued to wait and wait for the condo board to approve our building plans.

June was an especially fun and colorful month to be in New York because the city hosted WorldPride, a month-long LGBTQ pride celebration. New York was the 6th city to host WorldPride since it began in Rome in 2000. The city was decked out in rainbows everywhere for the month. And it all culminated in the June 28 celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, considered the birthplace of the gay rights movement.

[Note: Speaking of building plans, we expect the last step of our endless approval processes to happen by mid-September. That is why we are now hurrying to get the blog caught up to the present day. By the time we start our construction process in a couple of weeks we really want to be blogging in real time again!]

Jim’s sister Rebecca made her second appearance in New York this year, this time with her daughter Lily. Here we are on the roof of our future condo.

Becky and Lily could not resist posing by this great big AOC in graffiti just around the corner from our apartment

The Staten Island Ferry is a very economical way (free) to take a boat ride and get a nice glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. Or to just settle into a corner and read.

There’s Becky on our roof again!

Laura Migliorino is an old friend of Jim’s from Minneapolis. She was in town following an exhibit opening of her photography in the Hudson Valley. We hadn’t seen her in 25 years, but she was spunky as ever! We also enjoyed getting to know her New York friend, Ryan.

Speaking of graffiti — also just around the corner from our apartment

Our friend Thomas is a board member of the Trevor Project, a great non-profit that helps prevent suicide among gay people. Thomas and Anthony came up from DC for a big New York fundraiser, and here we are walking the red carpet.

We’ve spent a lot of time furniture shopping lately. It’s a grueling process because we hate most of what we see. I did somewhat dig this silvery couch.

This is at Poliform, one of the few furniture stores in New York that we really like. A variant of this very couch might well end up in our media room (which Jim says I’m not allowed to call the “TV room”).

We also had a visit from the Germains this month — Laura, Dan, and Elizabeth. Here Dan enjoys the view from the “window” at the old school Italian place we like in the Theatre District, after seeing the Broadway version of To Kill a Mockingbird.

And Laura tried on some fun glasses. Couldn’t convince here to buy them.

Here is Elizabeth, working to find the perfect little succulent for her dorm room at William and Mary, where she’ll be a freshman this fall

Here we are with our friend Sven (pink tie) and his brother Ralph (left) and Ralph’s son (right). Visiting from Munich, Ralph is an architect and was keen to see our new condo. So two Gierlinger families all came up and it turned into a fun, spontaneous party.

This is our neighbor Gregory. His search for a condo was featured in the New York Times and, fortunately, landed him in our building. You can read about it here.

My brother Pat and his wife Jenny came back to NYC so Jenny could run in the Pride Run

Jim, too, signed up for the Pride Run. The crowds were hellish, but the event did make the Guiness Book of Records for the largest ever pride charity run — with over 10,000 runners.

Here we are at the Stonewall Inn on the 50th anniversary of the uprising

Jenny and Pat pose with Blondie

Pat & Jenny’s visit overlapped with our friend Susan Shaer’s. We got caught up in all the excitement of the huge Pride march.

Susan and I get ready for the Broadway revival of Oklahoma!

May ended with a visit from my brother Pat, his wife Jenny, and our 18-year old nieces, Molly and Lydia. Here the girls enjoy mocktails in a heavenly outdoor setting at Public by Jean-Georges. They reported to their grandparents that it was the best restaurant they’d ever been to. What lovely guests they were!

In contrast with the first part of this year, May was a busy travel month. And when we weren’t traveling we usually seemed to have visitors, as happens in New York.

After our return from Italy we had one quick week at home before heading to Boston (Cambridge, really) for our 30th class reunion from graduate school at the Harvard Kennedy School. We had a great time seeing around 40 of our classmates — a pretty good showing 30 years out. And I will personally take some responsibility for that good showing because I got involved and really worked the Facebook messages, email prods, and text messages to help drive the crowd.

I also worked with two of my classmates, Jenny Spalding and Dara Menashi, to organize a couple events: a Friday open house at Dara’s house in Brookline and a Saturday evening reception at a restaurant in Cambridge. Because these events were organized by us (instead of the school) they were by far the most fun events of the weekend!

Because the reunion fell just a few days before my birthday, Jim suggested it made no sense to go straight home. So instead we caught a flight to Miami Beach to spend the birthday week in one of our favorite happy places. We’ll let the pictures tell the rest.

In early May we had a visit from my former business partner Nathaniel as he was passing through the city going from DC to Vermont. At the last minute he discovered that his sister Eve just happened to be passing through at the same time. Since we all hiked the Inca Trail together some years ago, it was a really fun reunion.

Jim with Dara in the Kennedy School courtyard at the reunion

Out for a walk along the Charles river with Keith

Jim with Keith and Deborah at an opening night reception at Dara’s house in Brookline

Over the last 30 years I’ve only seen Joan at class reunions. Every time I swear we are going to do better because she is so much fun!

Catching up with Jon and Dara. At the Kennedy School, Jon and I shared the distinction of being the only two graduates of the University of Michigan in our class.

At our Saturday evening reception I had a blast catching up with Deborah and Shari

Outside the busy reunion activities, we did squeeze in time for a wonderful dinner at our old neighbors’ place. So here we are with Ann and Bart and Wil (the tall one who gets taller every time we see him).

As if the reunion weekend did not have enough fun packed into it, we just happened to run into my graduate school landlord, Steve Nil. It was wonderful to catch up with Steve!

Following all the reunion activities it was nice to land in Miami Beach for a bit of relaxation

For my birthday celebration we spent a fun evening with a friend and roommate from U of M, Allan Kleer, who lives in Miami Beach

And even better, we met Allan’s partner Mauricio for the first time. He is an artist, a former model, and a super interesting guy.

I love the colors of everything in Miami Beach — the sky, the sea, the greenery, and especially the iconic lifeguard stations

And yes, we did have a few days here and there in New York in all its glory this month

Art on the High Line in New York

More culture — at the beautiful Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit at the Brant Foundation, which happens to be six blocks from our apartment

Jim’s brother Albert suggested that we meet Kasey Altman, whose father is a coworker of his in San Diego. For some reason we assumed Kasey was a guy, but he turned out to be the most delightful young woman, who shares our passion for travel and adventure.

I love to discover idyllic little reading spots around the city

A very busy May ended on a high note with the visit from Pat, Jenny, Molly, and Lydia