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PARKING IN SPAIN

In major cities and now even the villages, non-metered on-street parking is difficult to find but in some areas, there are parking spaces marked in blue for which you should purchase a ticket from a nearby machine on the pavement usually topped with a blue and white 'P' sign, or from an attendant. These spaces are usually for about two hours maximum. Penalties for parking infringements vary from town to town and can be heavy.

If you park illegally, especially in a foreign car, you will almost certainly become a victim of the 'grua' - the local tow truck, and if you suffer this, there should be a sticker left on the curb with the phone number/address of your car's new location. Getting your car back will be a hassle and will cost you dearly in fines and fees, not to mention the possible problem of your not speaking Spanish. Collecting your car from the grua is no fun. You go to the compound and pay the recovery fee. Then you go to the police station and pay the fine. Then you return to the compound with your receipts and get your car back.

If the pavement is painted yellow - don't park, if there is a sign saying 'No Parking' - don't park. If you're not sure - don't park. Just be careful where you leave your car and always lock valuables out of sight in the trunk or glove compartment.

You will note however, despite all this advice, the Spanish will park wherever their car happens to come to a halt, even on crossings, pavements and roundabouts, but the new Laws now mean that penalty points can be given to parking transgressors.

Observe all parking signs in the cities or any built up areas. Public parking is noted by the white 'P' surrounded in BLUE. A 'P' surrounded with BLACK indicates parking for a special class of people (residents, etc).

To use the public parking coin-operated machine, you put in your money and then push the green button. It prints a ticket indicating the parking time allowed. You then place the ticket where it can be seen inside your car window. Normally parking is free on Sundays, bank holidays and every day between 2pm-5pm but read each machine carefully.

If you have a parking ticket fine you can pay it with this machine. Insert the ticket into the envelope you have been given, along with cash payment. Then put into the letter box in the machine.

Public parking garages can be found in most cities. Hotels often have a parking garage for guests for which an extra fee is usually applied. Where possible, look for underground parking with security attendance. It's worth paying that little bit more.

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