Between The Lines

It was an interesting observation during a recent holiday in Spain that sparked off the topic of this post. Whilst vacationing in the beautiful and sunny climes of Southern Spain, we noticed a distinct lack of white lines to denote a parking space, and the ensuing consequence of the lack of such a demarcation. Driving around in our little rented Kia Picanto, I kept coming across potential parking spots, only to be scuppered by another drivers choice (or inability) to park just that little bit closer which would result in getting three cars into a space that could now only occupy two, thanks to the metre and a half gap in front of and behind their own car

As I was on holidays, and it being one of my favourite countrys in all of Europe, I decided not to let such a thing get on my goat. And given that we were there just before the peak arrival of our Northern European cousins (so there were still a fair few spaces available), the frivolities of finding a parking space weren’t worth getting worked up over.

We did, however, find ourselves musing over more loftier thoughts, such as “what I would do if I were voted into the local Council”. The first item on my manifesto being that I would endeavour in demarcating parking spaces clearly throughout the town we were staying. However, this sense of public duty would probably have to be broadened or expanded to either the role of Spanish Minister of the Interior or Transport Minister, because aside from the very many well laid out and affordable public parking garages, the same “two into three” problems could be found throughout Spain…at least we noticed it when we visited the large towns and cities throughout Andalusia.

Which brings me back to The Netherlands. Here is a country which is hell bent on making sure her citizens follow every little bureaucratic rule in the rule-book, to forgo a sense of individualism and follow the rest of their countrymen around like sheep. BUT, when it comes to parking, they seem to have lost the plot altogether. I took these photo’s when at the airport.

I found myself wondering how the Dutch would handle a world as open and free and individual as Spain, a world that has no white lines. Was this antisocial parking I was witnessing some new form of individualistic self expression? Or were these drivers simply grown-up children who refused to colour “inside the lines” in their colouring books? Or maybe they were just in a hurry? Yes, that must be it. The valuable time it takes to reverse and straighten up the car would clearly have meant that they’d have missed their flights. Oh, well that’s alright then.

Amazingly, when we used a public parking garage, we never saw a Spaniard who had parked like this. They just had problems when there WERE NO lines I must confess, I preferred the Spanish way of parking because they have a habit of leaving the handbrake off which would allow a neighbour to gently rock back and forth to squeeze their car in, without causing any undue harm or damage to other cars already parked.

The other two wonderful concepts we discovered were;

  1. Affordable Parking, and
  2. Parking Fine Annulment

The “Affordable Parking” one is just something I had forgotten about. In a country that fleeces you for everything they can, the Dutch have got overpriced parking down to a fine art. Currently the price for parking your car in a garage will cost you about €5 per hour. Oh no, wait a minute, I’m wrong, amn’t I. It’s actually €5 for 50 minutes (or part thereof). Street parking is a little cheaper. You pay less because you run a greater chance or your car being broken into, or damaged by some yobs on their bikes who are pissed drunk and can’t walk straight, nevermind cycle a bike. Contrast these Dutch prices with the €4 and €5 for an ENTIRE day in Spain, and you begin to turn giddy with excitement.

The second discovery is a new one for me though, and I must say, a VERY civilised one indeed. I had neglected to get out of bed in time in order to pay for the street parking (street parking meant having to pay for parking during the hours of 9am to 12pm and 4pm to 9pm). When I got down to the car I saw a parking fine on the windshield. You can imagine the bollocking I got from Herself. But fear not, because the fine was only €6 (compared with the €60 I would have had to pay in Holland) AND I could pay it straight away by going to the parking machine, scanning the barcode, paying the fine and putting one part newly printed ticket into the envelope the fine came in and then popping that into a special letterbox on the machine. The other half of the ticket allowed me to park in that area for the remainder of the day!! Result. Fine wiped away instantly AND my parking for the remainder of the day was paid for. This is definitely something the Dutch could do with implementing here. I just hope the Spanish don’t get wind of the way the Dutch do it.

I best be off and put some money in the meter

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