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Tel us about the experience of being outside, looking in — however you’d like to interpret that.

I remember one night quite vividly of when my sister and I felt like outsiders or at the very least, left out of the fun. It was during our backpacking trip through France, Italy and Greece; we had arrived at Monaco, the local train left us at the city of Monte Carlo, the only stop in the Principality of Monaco and we went off to get two beds at the Princess Stephanie Youth Hostel. We spent the day sight seeing, visiting the old city and the new city; later, we had drinks at the cafe right across the street from the Hotel de Paris adjacent to the Grand Casino. We saw Ferraris and Lamborghini’s, Porsches as well. There were spectacular evening dresses and gorgeous jewels. It was a sight to behold. Later on that night, my sister and I were by the port sitting at another outdoor cafe having another round of port wine and we could hear champagne corks popping, the sound of laughter drifting down from the rooms up above of the Hotel de Paris and I felt left out. All of the fun and excitement was being had by the rich and the beautiful, while my sister and I were downstairs feeling very small and inconsequential.

During the day, while we were sightseeing and visiting the palace and the museum, we felt part of the city’s experience. Walking along the sidewalk and window shopping, gazing at works of art, we didn’t feel held back at length, we felt welcome to come share in the bounty and beauty of Monaco and its history. It was only at night when the museums and shops were closed that the exclusivity rose up from behind closed doors and made itself known. There was definitely an unspoken rule of where you did not belong if your wallet was small.

Did we have any bitter feelings that night feeling left out and bored downstairs in that cafe while the sounds of merriment and fun were cascading down towards our ears? No I wouldn’t say bitter or jealous, I just remember realizing that the barrier was very tall and wide between my world and theirs and that was a fact of life.

I do remember that when my sister and I left Monaco and hopped on the train to Florence, meeting three amazing Australian girls on the way and becoming a group during our stay in Florence, my sister and I had the best time exploring the city of Florence with Natalie, Jennifer and Fiona, the three travelers from Brisbane. There weren’t any apparent exclusive spaces, sights or events that we were consciously aware of, I remember feeling very comfortable and welcomes in the city of Florence. Those 4 or 5 days were so very wonderful. They outshone our short visit in Monaco by a long shot. I am not sure if it was the addition of our friends or if it was the more egalitarian nature of the city that made it so much nicer as a memory. Either way, I still treasure the entire trip as a tremendous souvenir of my youth and freedom, my sister and I had quite the adventure back then.