Well ‘Maybe’ as a Galician might say.
No if you are trying to find a parking spot on a hot fractious afternoon in Vigo. The place is rammed with parked cars, crammed into every available space. You wonder whether people dare use their vehicles for fear of never finding a space again on their return!
After circling around the (vast) docklands area for about an hour (receiving enthusiastic help from a gang of kids determined to fit us into the smallest of spaces) we decided to park our van in the only available place – the only place that parking was explicitly forbidden and to conduct our business in the town asap. Inevitably, in the afternoon in Spain, business cannot be conducted asap – Tourist Info and ferry offices were having a snooze – so we gambled on parking officials doing likewise and opted for a leisurely lunch at the Real Club Nautico de Vigo.
4 hrs later we had resigned ourselves to a parking ticket but on our return found not only no ticket but a van that hadn’t been towed away.
Outside of the cities there appear to be no parking regulations what so ever. You can park anywhere and without charge. In a fairly sparsely populated country this doesn’t seem to have particularly negative consequences.
Of course ‘parking’ is freighted with additional meaning for Vanners as in ‘is this a good place to stay overnight?’ – or in England ‘can we get away with sleeping here tonight?’ There seems little impediment to overnighting in Galicia whether on harbour quay sides, next to fantastic beaches or on wild headlands. In fact it seems that locals encourage it, smiling and waving to us, even urging us through ludicrously narrow streets in order to get to ‘their’ lighthouse.
One morning we were eating a leisurely breakfast having camped at the tip of a remote headland under the loom of a lighthouse when a battered old estate car pulled up next to us. A man got out and began talking to us. We struggled to get his drift but alarmingly the word ‘molesta‘ seemed rather prominent. Realising that there was a communication problem he held up a blue dog lead by way of providing some contextual information. It seemed that he had lost his dog and worryingly that he thought that we might have had some part in this. Now I know our stock in Europe has fallen rather low of late but surely he wasn’t accusing us of abducting and molesting his dog?
A quick glance at his friendly, if concerned, face reassured me that this could not be the case. Perhaps his dog had escaped and he was worried that his dog had molested us!
In an appalling mixture of English, Spanish and arm movements I tried to explain to him that we hadn’t seen what I was now envisaging as a large vicious brute of a dog – the sort that would have you backed up against a wall in no time at all. At this point, much to my relief, Sue intervened, English / Spanish dictionary in hand to indicate that we would not be inconvenienced in the slightest if he took his dog for a walk.
With smiles all round he let this tiny little dog out of the tailgate of his vehicle, attached it to the blue lead and set off across the headland!