Austalia (Day Twenty) — Well, this trip didn’t quite end how I expected. Everything I read, and everything I knew, pointed to Melbourne being my type of city … certainly when compared to the yet-another-big-city in Sydney.

I can count on exactly one finger the number of “first” cities I like (New York) and wasn’t planning on this being any different. So, I was a bit surprised when I found myself picking out curtains in Sydney after being decidedly ho-hum about Melbourne.

Granted, I crammed a LOT into my 30-hour Sydney experience, including the Bridge, a tour of the Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Observatory Hill, a beach (Manley), two ferry rides and one of the best opera performances I have seen in the last five years (La Boheme at said Opera House).

In the end, the Sydney / Melbourne question went a lot like the rest of the trip: all the greatest stuff came when we weren’t expecting it, and for entirely different reasons than we expected.

The best city was the afterthought (Sydney). The most time was needed at the place we had the least (Tasmania). The best part of the Great Ocean Road wasn’t actually part of the Great Ocean Road (Adelaide to Port Fairy). The best part of my Australian vacation was the work. Even with all the spectacular vistas, the best part wasn’t the parks but the people.

In the next couple of weeks, I will pull my thoughts together on the trip as a whole … and try and distill all the best bits. But until then, I think it is a fair say that this was far and away the best three weeks of travel in *my* short lifetime, and while Belize was paradise on earth, Australia is where I will be packing my bags for if I ever get the means.