Ameropean Vacation?

With the dollar at an all-time low, Europe is out of reach for all but the wealthiest vacationers. But you can find European flavor on more affordable home turf.

Barcelona
Instead of heading to Spain, find bright colors, uncommon architecture and plenty of lingual overlap in Miami.

It might not have an Olympic Villa or museums dedicated to Miro and Picasso, but Miami's colorful art deco buildings can satisfy your hankering to see Gaudi's Sagrada Familia.

Swap the Costa Brava and the artist barrio of Barceloneta for a roller-blade ride down South Beach and its chorus line of swanky nightclubs, like Mansion or the Opium Garden.

And though Spanish is not the official language of either city (Barcelona has long been a crusader to "normalize" its native language of Catalan, once outlawed under Franco's dictatorship), you'll hear it sprinkled into speech everywhere in both cities.



Lisbon

Surfing and water culture? Check. Mecca for foodies and wine connoisseurs? Yes. Hilly streets too steep to drive on? Exactly.

Though actually learning to surf is probably easier outside of Lisbon, San Fransisco ranks with Hawaii as home to some of the best breaks in the world -- like Maverick's, just north of the city.

But the water culture isn't limited to wave-riding. Replace a day cruise along Lisbon's Tagus River with a ferry ride to Sausalito or legendary Alcatraz Island. Both afford amazing water views of the cityscape, though the art galleries and shopping of the former couldn't contrast more with the Alcatraz's grisly prison tour.

Both cities have been rebuilt after massive earthquakes and boast a lively gay and lesbian community, as well as a smattering of religious architecture: San Francisco's original inception as a Catholic conversion outpost for the Spanish has left behind some breathtaking ruins, like Mission Dolores on 16th Street. Or if you head up to Napa or Sonoma wine country, check out Mission Solano as well.

Plus, you'll taste all the foodie culture of Lisbon in SF's neighborhoods -- Mission District and Polk Street are good starts.





London
It may be calling, but at the current dollar-to-sterling rate, you can't afford it. So head to New York.

The arsenal of standard sight-sees is comparable: climb the Empire State Building instead of St. Paul's; take in the Statue of Liberty rather than Big Ben.

You'll still find good shopping, underground transport, unusual accents, Chinatown and a SoHo, and even Londoners would be hard-pressed to claim that Hyde Park tops Manhattan's Central Park.

Daytrips may seem a bit of a sacrifice, but isn't the chance to visit the homes of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack Kerouac and Langston Hughes all worth missing Stratford-upon-Avon?



Monte Carlo
Look, even the Europeans come to Vegas to gamble. And if you're really jonesing for a vacation on the Continent, at least you'll find Venice and Paris conveniently located on the Strip.

Both cities are overflowing with celebrity sightings, beautiful people and obscene amounts of money, but at least in Vegas it's not considered tacky to take advantage of the free drinks.

Not gambling? Instead of the Alps, hike the Rockies; ogle Paris Hilton instead of Zsa Zsa Gabor; and relive scenes from "Ocean's 11" instead of "Goldeneye."

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