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

Some siblings, in-laws, nieces, and nephews as we start our little hike to the Little Sucker River

A key part of our thinking in establishing a home in the U.S. again was to be closer to family. And what better time to visit family in northern Minnesota than over the 4th of July weekend? Not only is it a great holiday on its own but my Dad’s birthday was the 5th of July, making it always a big couple of days for us. So off to Duluth we went.

One of the highlights of the weekend was a cousin’s 40th wedding anniversary. I grew up amongst a large number of cousins and I figured going to her party would be a great way to see a lot of them at once. That all worked and while I probably enjoyed it more than Mark did (I come from a big extended family and he didn’t), it was great fun reconnecting. Or, in the case of some of their now-adult children, great fun getting to know them. Sadly, though, there were no good pictures as the bar where the party was held just didn’t lend itself to good photos.

A little pool formed by cascading water made for a great little break in the day

Another highlight was a family hike up to a little swimming hole on the Little Sucker River just outside Duluth. I laughed when I saw it and started playing around: Mark & I travel the world looking for just the right little isolated spot like that, and there it was in my old home town.

Otherwise the long weekend was just about hanging out with family. Mark & I took my mother out for lunch at a favorite restaurant up the North Shore. She always loves having guests even when – as in this case – she wasn’t at all sure who we were or why we were taking her out. Sad, but Alzheimer’s only goes in one direction and it’s not a good one. The rest of the family, though, is doing well.

Dropping off Mom at her assisted living facility after lunch

The Little Sucker River

Some years ago Duluth created a fabulous trail along the north shore of Lake Superior. Great for running and walking, you have views like this of the city.

A double rainbow over Lake Superior

Mark & Karen

Me and Rebecca, outside a cousin’s home in Superior. When I was a kid an uncle used to cook Sunday pancakes for whoever was there and while he has long since passed away, his kids keep the tradition going when there are cousins around. Such fun!

Anita with flowers from our hike

While the focus of our stay was to visit family I carved out dinner one night for Mary, an old graduate school classmate and friend of ours who lives in Duluth. Over the years she’s become friends with my sister Rebecca, so we made it a five-some along with Mary’s husband Bill.

And Mark taking the best selfie ever

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!