WCBE

Lauren Frayer

In recent years, Spain has had a devastating economic crash, an influx of migrants and corruption scandals that left people fed up with politicians. All these factors might make Spain fertile ground for the sort of right-wing, anti-immigrant political parties gaining ground in other parts of Europe. But unlike much of the continent, Spain has no such far-right movement.

Why?

On a mild, sunny afternoon, hordes of tourists stroll down Barcelona's famous tree-lined pedestrian avenue, La Rambla. They love it — the weather, the tapas, the laid-back bohemian vibe. One tourist from Australia says he's visited Barcelona 12 times in 10 years.

But the city doesn't always love them back.

In January, thousands of Barcelona residents marched down La Rambla and "occupied" the entrance to a hotel there, to protest the volume of tourists and gentrification in the city.

At the height of Spain's economic crisis a few years ago, protesters used to form human chains around houses to prevent authorities from serving eviction papers to homeowners who'd fallen behind on their mortgages.

Often at the center of the crowd, with a megaphone, was Ada Colau.

On a frigid winter night, a man wearing two coats shuffles into a brightly lit brick restaurant in downtown Madrid. Staff greet him warmly; he's been here many times. The maître d' stamps his ID card, and the hungry man selects a table with a red tablecloth, under a big brass chandelier.

The man, Luis Gallardo, is homeless — and so are all the diners, every night, at the city's Robin Hood restaurant. Its mission is to charge the rich and feed the poor. Paying customers at breakfast and lunch foot the bill for the restaurant to serve dinner to homeless people, free of charge.

If you book a tour of old-fashioned Holland, the guide may take you to Volendam. It's a picturesque village north of Amsterdam, with cobblestone streets, tulips and a little old lady selling the local delicacy, smoked eels, from a kiosk at the end of the pier.

Volendam is a small but prosperous place, with waterfront homes and sailboats tied up at the docks. There's almost full employment, and very few immigrants. About a dozen people NPR stopped on the street all used the same words to describe their town: Hard-working. Traditional. A good place to raise kids.

Sylvana Simons got her start as a soul music VJ on the Dutch version of MTV. She went on to anchor the evening news in the Netherlands, and performed on the local version of Dancing with the Stars.

Carola Garcia-Calvo spends her days poring over Islamic State propaganda. It's part of her job as a global terrorism analyst at Madrid's Elcano Royal Institute, a think tank.

Recently, she has noticed a shift.

After one of the founders of Corona beer died last summer at age 98, some news went viral: In his will, he'd apparently left his fortune to the tiny, hardscrabble village in northern Spain where he was born. Each resident — mostly retired farmers and miners of meager means — would receive more than $2 million.

Spain's national art museum, the Prado, has been around nearly 200 years and has one of the world's biggest collections of Renaissance and Baroque art.

But only now has it devoted a solo exhibition to a female artist: the 17th century Flemish painter Clara Peeters.

Jewish women sing songs of worship as they march arm in arm with male supporters through an ultra-Orthodox area of Jerusalem's Old City.

They're from a group called Women of the Wall, which lobbies for women to be allowed to pray, sing and read the Bible aloud at the Western Wall, the most important site for Jewish prayer. They hold these marches about once a month, and they often get heckled. Today is no different.

It looks like Surf City, USA: White sand beaches that stretch for miles, sunshine, a soft breeze and some pretty gnarly waves.

But this is not California. It's the Gaza Strip. This coastal Palestinian territory is more famous for conflict with Israel. Visitors have to pass through military checkpoints to enter the strip, and Israeli drones often buzz overhead. There are piles of rubble from years of war.

But Gaza also has a 25-mile Mediterranean coast and a small local surf scene.

Thousands of teenagers swoon — Arabs and Jews alike — as Tamer Nafar takes the stage. He's a member of Israel's Palestinian Arab minority, a founding member of the Palestinian hip-hop group DAM — and he sings in Arabic.

At this concert last month in northern Israel, part of a multicultural gathering on the sidelines of the Haifa Film Festival, where Israeli musicians of Ethiopian and Indian descent are also performing, "I'm not political," he raps.

Huddled over a hot griddle in the back of his food truck, Abdel Rahman Rahim al-Bibi doesn't hold back on the curry powder. He's frying up shish taouk — a spicy chicken kebab dish popular in the Middle East.

Aromas waft down the block, and a line forms on the city sidewalk next to al-Bibi's truck — office workers popping out for a quick bite, a mother and her two children, and a law student on his way home from the gym.

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Beef cheeks sizzle in a frying pan. Oysters float in melon puree. And culinary students from all over the world huddle in silent rapture around a stove in central London.

Food gods are in their midst.

The Roca brothers — Joan, Josep and Jordi — are the chef-proprietors of El Celler de Can Roca, a restaurant in northeast Spain that's among the top-rated in the world. To international foodies, the Rocas are rock stars of haute cuisine.

In a muddy field in northern England's Lake District, more than 20,000 people are camping out at a four-day outdoor music festival called Kendal Calling. They jam along with their favorite bands. Some people wear outlandish costumes: There are superheroes, Indian chiefs and a naked guy wearing only transparent plastic wrap. There's dancing, drinking and occasionally, some illicit drug use.

A five-hour drive southwest of Madrid, I pull into a tiny town square filled with songbirds and an outsized Catholic church — where Eduardo Sousa and Diego Labourdette are waiting.

They're an odd couple. Sousa is a jovial fifth-generation Spanish farmer. Labourdette is a soft-spoken academic — an ecologist and migratory bird expert — who teaches at a university in Madrid. But they're in business together — in the foie gras business.

It may be cloudy and cold, with stones rather than sand underfoot, but the English seaside could get an unexpected boost this summer — courtesy of the Brexit.

Britain's June vote to leave the European Union has depressed the value of the British pound, and is likely to make Britons' airline tickets more expensive for summer vacations. So many are opting for "staycations" instead.

"In my circle of friends, I suspect many people will stay in the U.K. as opposed to going abroad," says Matthew Kirk, 42, who works in IT in London.

The town of Crawley, about 30 miles south of London, has been inhabited since Roman times. It grew substantially after World War II, absorbing people from bombed-out parts of the capital. There's a 13th century church and an old stagecoach inn that dates to 1615. The latest census figures show most of the roughly 100,000 people registered as living in Crawley are white and British-born.

But a stroll around town reveals a different picture.

Fran Beesley was still in her bathrobe early one morning in June when she emerged from her home to find a Japanese family taking photos of her flowerbeds.

She lives in a 1970s-style one-story bungalow in the rural village of Kidlington, about a 90-minute drive northwest of London. It's a quiet place. Doesn't get many visitors. Beesley is retired and cares for her invalid husband. They're both in their 70s.

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