A travel writer, Zeren Earls is a native of Turkey, who came to the United States in the late 50s for her college education. She studied psychology at Duke University, where she met her late husband, composer/media artist Paul Earls. Her immersion in the art world through her husband while a fellow at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT, led to her involvement in First Night in 1976. She was among the initial organizers of the Boston event and became its director in 1980. Pursuant to the event's major growth under her direction, she moved on to found First Night International in 1994. After assisting many communities in the US and abroad in initiating the First Night Celebration, she retired in 2002. Since then she has turned to adventure traveling and writing. Each year she travels to a country that is culturally new to her, China, Egypt, India, Morocco and Vietnam to name a few. In addition to her travels she has been writing her life story.
Simien Mountains, Gondar, Bahir DarBy: - May 15th, 2020
Simien Mountains, known as "Roof of Africa", is an ecological hot spot for endemic species such as the gelada monkeys. Gondar highlights the architectural glory of the once capital of Ethiopia for 200 years. Bahir Dar is located in the southern shore of Lake Tana, which harbors many islands home to ancient monastic churches with completely painted interiors related to Ethiopian Orthodox liturgy.
Addis Ababa, Aksum, LalibelaBy: - May 01st, 2020
Ethiopia is a wondrous land of majestic mountains, ancient cultures, beautiful people and architectural treasures. Addis Ababa, the modern capital city; Aksum, the one time capital of the ancient Aksumite Empire, and the holy city of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with eleven rock-hewn churches, leave one with indelible memories.
The Basque CountryBy: - Mar 12th, 2018
The Basque region of northern Spain stands out with its beautiful coastline and unique culture. In addition to being historic towns with notable architecture, the cities of Bilbao, Guernica, San Sebastian and Pamplona boast a vibrant contemporary life flavored with local charm. The network of ancient pilgramage routes, the Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James) also stretches through this region.
Along the Foothills of the PyreneesBy: - Jan 02nd, 2018
The walled city of Carcassonne, the heritage site Albi with its Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, the Basque cities of Auch and Bayonne, and the Atlantic coastal cities of Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz are treasures that make this region of France unique for the visitor.
An Inspiring Success StoryBy: - Nov 06th, 2017
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao recently concluded a year-long celebration of its 20th anniversary under the concept "Art Changes Everything", inspired by the major changes that the city of Bilbao and its residents have experienced since the Museum's opening on October 19, 1997, while at the same time underscoring the transformational capacity of art. I felt fortunate to be able to visit this cultural treasure during a tour of the Basque region of northern Spain in late September.
A journey South of the Polar CircleBy: - Sep 13th, 2017
Greenland, the world's largest island, offers majestic mountains, green valleys and picturesque fjords dotted with icebergs along its eastern coast. Towns of Tasiilaq and Kusuluk are home to Inuits, who have a unique way of life mediated by their environment.
Wonders of the North and South CoastsBy: - Sep 05th, 2017
Traveling from the northern fjords near the Arctic Circle by way of Lake Myvatn to the south coast, Iceland offers breathtaking displays of geological wonders. Craters, hot springs, lava fields, roaring waterfalls, geysers glacial rivers and black sand beaches are all within easy reach. Landscapes of beautiful farmlands and cliffs with seabirds are the added bonus.
Reykjavik and Western IcelandBy: - Aug 27th, 2017
Iceland is a destination for both the culture and nature enthusiast. Although Reykjavik is a small capital city, its cultural offerings are as varied as those of any major European capital. Snaefellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland is dotted with charming coastal villages and a feast of natural wonders. Snaefelsjokull, a glacier capped 700,000-year-old volcano, looms large over the western end of the peninsula.
Westman IslandsBy: - Aug 13th, 2017
Heimaey is the only inhabited one of the fifteen volcanic Westman Islands on the southeast coast of Iceland. Rising from the cold sea, the island has a rugged appearance which belies its natural beauty and friendly people. Visiting Heimaey is a moving experience to learn about volcanic devastation and people's resilience to rebuild and to preserve the island's nature-made beauty.
Christ Church and WellingtonBy: - Jun 26th, 2017
Christ Church is a vibrant coastal city rebuilding itself following a major earthquake devastation of six years ago. Contemporary architecture is on the rise, while historic treasures are being restored. Wellington, the capital city, is an urban wonderland with a thriving movie industry, world-class museums, outdoor cafes, an attractive waterfront, and beautiful botanical gardens.
A Wonderland of Natural BeautyBy: - Jun 04th, 2017
Milford Sound with scenic fjords, national parks with spectacular mountain views and cascading waterfalls, and Dart River with thrilling jet-boat rides are the rewards of South Island. Traveling west across the Southern Alps, the rewards continue with the snow-capped Mount Cook region, Fox and San Josef Glaciers, a craggy coastline with "Pancake Rocks", and the artists' haven town of Hokitika.
Auckland, Rotorua and Waimangu Volcanic ValleyBy: - Apr 25th, 2017
As New Zealand's largest city, Auckland offers a distinctive urban landscape with two harbors, modern high-rises, beautiful gardens, and impressive museums. Rotorua stands out with its geothermal activity and predominant Maori culture. Waimangu Volcanic Valley is a wonderland of crater lakes, hot springs, boiling mud pots, and an exuberant nature that has regenerated following the devastation of an eruption.
Bay of IslandsBy: - Apr 12th, 2017
A subtropical archipelago, the Bay of Islands is a unique ecosystem of nearly 150 islands. Pristine natural environment with emerald hills and clear turquoise waters set the stage for picturesque historic towns, which mark the crossroads of English and Maori cultures, giving birth to the nation of New Zealand.
From the Ionian to the Aegean SeaBy: - Feb 08th, 2017
The highlights of this itinerary range from rock formations with monasteries perched atop the cliffs at Meteora to ancient Macedonian cities of Philippi and Amphipolis, the former distinguished as the first place Apostle Paul visited in Europe. The modern cities of Kavala and Thessaloniki enhance the experience with museums, monuments, and antiquities in addition to a vibrant urban life.
From the Aegean to the Ionian SeaBy: - Feb 07th, 2017
Traveling through Northern Greece is a wondrous journey across ancient Macedonia. The scenic land between the modern coastal cities of Thessaloniki on the east and Parga and Preveza on the west, is a treasure trove of antiquities from the time of King Philip II and his son Alexander the Great, along with those from Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. Biblical treasures along the route enhance the journey.
Along Lake Baikal on the Trans-Siberian RailwayBy: - Jan 03rd, 2017
Lake Baikal is the largest and oldest body of fresh water on earth. Traveling along its southern shore by vintage steam train is a unique journey on a coastal precipice with lush mountains on one side and the lake on the other. Listvyanka, an old port town on the lake, is also close to a network of hiking paths. Irkutsk, the capital of Eastern Siberia, reflects a rich and varied cultural heritage as home to 120 nationalities, well worth the distance to get there.
Khovsgol Lake and Gobi DesertBy: - Dec 01st, 2016
The vast Khovsgol Lake region in northern Mongolia is home to numerous nomadic herders. As their grazing horses, yaks, and reindeer grace the shores, picturesque gers for locals and visitors add to the pastoral charm. Gobi Desert in the south fascinates with its valleys, sand dunes, ochre-colored cliffs, and the unique two-humped Bactrian camels.
Ulaanbaatar and Gorkhi-Terelj National ParkBy: - Oct 01st, 2016
An independent country since 1990, Mongolia is a vast land situated between China and Russia. It has retained its centuries old nomadic life style and culture, despite 80 years under socialism. Ulaanbaatar , the capital city, is a vibrant metropolis with temples and museums, and is quickly establishing itself in the world community. Gorkhi-Terelj National Park boasts a landscape of forests, granite hills, rivers and meadows. It is home to 550 nomadic families and a favorite vacation spot for city dwellers.
Dali and LijiangBy: - Sep 11th, 2016
Dali is an autonomous Bai prefecture on the shores of Lake Erhai, which sits in a high-altitude valley of 6500 feet. Mild climate, beautiful mountain scenery, and unique minority populations make the region an attractive destination. Lijian, nestled in the high mountain plains at 7500 feet, is home to Naxi people, who have a unique culture and religion based on nature worship. Their living quarters is a well-preserved Old Town well worth a visit.
Kunming, The Capital CityBy: - Sep 07th, 2016
Burma and Tibet as neighbors, Yunnan is a culturally, ethnically, and geographically diverse, fascinating region of China. Sixteen of China's fifty six ethnic populations live in Kunming, the capital city. Kunming is a vibrant modern city with urban attractions, yet retaining old-fashioned charm and folkloric color.
NicaraguaBy: - Jun 12th, 2016
Related to the Aztecs of Central Mexico, Nicarao people settled along the Pacific coast of what is now Nicaragua about 1250 AD. Covering a land mass from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, Nicaragua suffered under years of dictatorship and civil war in its recent history. Ready to realize its potential, the beautiful country shines with its capital Managua, as well as Granada, the oldest colonial city of the American mainland, established in 1524.
BelizeBy: - May 31st, 2016
Boasting a rich ethnic mix on the Caribbean coast, Belize attracts visitors to sun and sea. Lamanai, a 26-mile scenic ride away on the New River, is an ancient city within a subtropical forest, where the Maya lived for over 3000 years.
Antigua, Tikal and YaxhaBy: - May 25th, 2016
Founded as the seat of Spain's colonial government in a valley towered over by Volcan de Agua, Antigua is a treasure trove of art and architecture of Colonial Guatemala. Tikal and Yaxha are national parks within a vast tropical jungle with a reserve area of magnificent ruins of ancient cities that pay tribute to the accomplishments of the great Mayan civilization of Central America.
Guatemala City, Lake Atitlan and Its Mayan TownsBy: - May 04th, 2016
Guatemala is a wonderland of spectacular natural beauty and local color. Spread on a broad plain surrounded by hills, the capital Guatemala City is a bustling metropolis adorned by both colonial decor and modernity. Lake Atitlan ringed with towering volcanoes and quaint villages is the heart of the Mayan world with unique customs, folklore, and traditions of many color.
El Salvador to HondurasBy: - Apr 19th, 2016
Joya de Ceren in El Salvador is a village preserved intact under layers of volcanic ash. Evacuated during eruption, what has been left behind reveal Mayan life from AD 600. Copan in Honduras is the most elaborate of all Mayan cities, as it was home to kings representing God on earth. Temple sculptures and portraits of kings carved in stone amidst a natural setting with birds and trees make the visit a wondrous experience.