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Parking (estacionamiento/aparcamiento) in most Spanish towns and cities is often a nightmare, although it is not usually as expensive as in many other European countries. Almuñécar has recently been subject to the appearance of some strange little objects on the sides of roads which happen to be parking meters (parquímetros) or ticket machines (expendedor de tickets de estacionamiento). These are located in areas designated as blue zones (zonas azules), indicated by blue street markings.  How pretty!  But what do they mean?

Well basically they mean that you can park in these areas for a limited period of two hours and at a small charge of course. Parking is charged from 9am till 2pm and from 5pm till 8pm Monday to Friday.  On Saturdays it is 9am till 2pm and Sundays and festivals are free.  The minimum charge is 30 minutes for 0.35 cents and the maximum is 2 hours for 1.10 euros.   You have to put your hard earned cash into the slot to get a little scrap of paper to put in your car.  If you do not do this or your time period expires a little person with a ticket machine will come along and put a fine on your windscreen.  This fine can be as much as 50 euros!!!!  However, if you take this fine immediately and put it in the ticket machine from which you obtained your ticket… or didn’t whichever the case may be… you can cancel the fine paying a lesser sum there and then.  If you did not purchase and display a ticket then you will have to pay 6.40€ within 3 hours of the time of the fine.  If your time period has elapsed on your ticket, and as long as you are within the two hour limit, you will have to pay 3.20€.  Both tickets plus the fine must be posted in the little box at the bottom of the ticket machine.  If the time period for paying the fine has elapsed then you will have to pay the fine at the town hall.  If you do this within 30 days you will only have to pay 35€ instead of the 50€.

It is highly recommended that you take your car away ASAP so that the municipal tow truck does not come along and do it for you.  If this unfortunate occurrence should befall you, then you will have to pay another fine to get your car back, this amount is in the range of 70€, but you may have the parking fine added to this.  You will see a little colourful sticker on the ground where you left your car with your car registration number on it, showing that it has been towed away.  One thing to look at when you are parking your precious vehicle is the ground… if there is a sticker already on the ground some other poor unfortunate mortal has had their car removed… so it might not be a good idea to leave your car in the same place!

On the ticket machines it does state that if you are a resident then the charges are less.  You can pay a daily rate of 0.70€ or a weekly rate of 3.45€.  There is also the possibility of paying the yearly rate of 155€.  However this is not quite what it seems.  You must reside in a street where there is a blue zone and you must be registered with the town hall on the census, your car must also be registered at the same address.  The address on your permiso de circulación must be your residential address.  If this is not the case then your application will not be considered.

Estacionamiento Prohibido means parking is forbidden or restricted and may be accompanied by the sign of a red circle with a blue background and a red line through it. No parking signs also indicate the direction (shown by an arrow), i.e. left or right of the sign, where it’s illegal to park. If parking is illegal in both directions, a sign will have two arrows. There might be times indicated on the signs, for example where the Friday market is held there are signs which state from 22.00 hours on Thursday until 14.00 hours on Friday.   No parking may also be indicated by yellow line either on the ground or on the kerb.   A tow-away zone is usually shown by a sign of a hoist on the back of a truck and the words retirada grúa.

Vado Permanente means that there is an entrance which has 24 hour access.  This is normally where there is a garage or something similar.
Carga y Descarga means loading zone; this may also have a time restriction with the red circle with a blue background and a red line through it.
Parking regulations vary depending on the area of a city, the time of day, the day of the week, and whether the date is odd or even. In many towns, parking is permitted on one side of the street for the first half of the month (blue and red parking restriction sign marked ‘1-15’) and on the other side for the second half of the month (sign marked ‘16-31’).  So if you are travelling around… look carefully at the signs!  You could save yourself a lot of time and money by perhaps parking a little further a field and strolling into town or getting a bus.