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303342_10101805959818849_409763547_nLet me tell you a tale of Mexico that has little to do with sun and sand, will never use the term all-inclusive, and has not a trace of guacamole or margaritas. This is the tale of Puebla, a colonial city about 75 miles outside of Mexico City.

Puebla, the fourth largest city in Mexico, is a city that is well-known by the avid traveler to Mexico. Its graffiti murals are local artistic expressions, it still hosts live bull fights, and its most famous ambassador is mole poblano (that heavenly mixture of chocolate and chilies). But to the tourist that only knows Cancun, Ixtapa and Los Cabos, Puebla is literally a whole new world. But this is why it is a must for anyone’s visit to Mexico.

Tiny colonial streets are flanked with candy stores, clothing shops and taco stands. Outdoor markets offer everything from candied peaches to peanuts to grasshoppers with chilies and garlic, and there are at least three indoor food markets that sell everything from chicken doused in mole to cemitas, which are fat sandwiches stuffed with meat, avocado and Oaxaca cheese.

733870_10101805959215059_1481572626_nHotel options are limited, but that’s the beauty of Puebla. You will be hard pressed to find more than a few other Americans. La Purificadora is, in my opinion, one of the best luxury boutique hotels in the city. The hotel plays with the boundaries of indoor and outdoor, as much of the hotel is open air and is decorated with slate, stone and wood. Bright purple chairs in the lobby accent the subdued, natural tones.

Be sure to visit the terrace, which overlooks the San Francisco cathedral, and has an above-ground, all glass infinity pool. (The best views are at night, when the cathedral glows warmly. If you’re lucky, you’ll see fireworks bursting in the distance.) Order a cocktail and breathe in the balmy air. You’re in Puebla. No need to worry tonight; there’s always ma├▒ana.

One of the other great landmarks in Puebla is the Popocat├ępetl Volcano, an active volcano that lazily watches over the city. In the evenings it is easy to see the heavy cloud of smoke that hangs over the mouth of the volcano. As the sun sets behind the beast, it is even more magnificent.

Puebla is not for everyone. You won’t find tequila shots being handed out on the beach, there is no cOcO bOngO, and everyone’s t-shirt manages to stay dry. This is not America’s Mexico. And this is why we like it.

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I need to apologize for the touch of melodrama yesterday. Sure, it was painful to be swollen from bug bites and sun stroke, but truthfully it doesn’t matter when you are looking at the ocean all day long.

And so ends the great Caribbean adventure. It took a rickshaw, three boats (because the first two had to turn around due to technical difficulties), a Cessna, an A320 and a New York taxi cab to get me from Villa Aquamare to Villa Meagan, but it was worth it.

In lieu of a wrap-up, let me leave you with a few fun facts about Virgin Gorda:

There are approximately 3,500 residents on the island. Anyone who wants a job has one available to them, and almost every resident owns property. This is very different from many of the other Caribbean islands where high-end luxury sits adjacent to abject poverty, breeding resentment among the locals toward the tourists.

The vibe is a bit different on Virgin Gorda because locals are instilled with a sense of pride and accomplishment, and there is far less of a clash between the haves and the have-nots.

The island is the third largest in the BVI after Tortola and Anegada, and the rumor goes that Christopher Columbus named it Virgin Gorda (The Fat Virgin), because the island’s profile looks like a fat woman on her side.

Caribbean dispatches closed.

Twitter really is a beautiful thing. I fought it for so long because it seemed, well, stupid. But after tailoring who I “follow,” my “feed” is always fascinating. So here’s something I discovered on Twitter yesterday, and while it is not originally mine (I’m on a week-long vacation from work and have left my couch very little), I think you foodies out there will find it pretty sweet (no pun). Check out Lonely Planet‘s top gourmet sights around the globe. (They are all in Europe or Asia…shocker.)

If you ask me about my favorite cities in Europe, Vienna always manages to wiggle its way into the top five. This city is spectacular. Aside from its centuries-old history, decadent desserts and amazing wine, the city exudes an imperial elegance and grace that is seemingly effortless. It’s just a beautiful European city.

Almost a year since I was last in Vienna, the Austria Tourist Office set up a temporary “Pop Up Store” in SoHo. For the last two weeks the gallery, at 201 Mulberry between Spring and Kenmare, has hosted art exhibits, wine tasting, performances and more to showcase everything that is uniquely Austrian.

The Pop Up store will close up on Wednesday, October 19, with a culinary bash, so if you have yet to experience all that is Austria I highly recommend you make the trip.

Be sure to have your picture taken in front of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt‘s most notable work: The Kiss. Next year Vienna will be honoring Gustav Klimt’s work with an ongoing exhibition.