Postcard from... Madrid


For some strange reason, wedging a car into an unnervingingly small underground carpark space has always seemed to be as integral to the average Spanish travel experience as drinking sangria or eating a tortilla de patatas omelette . But now the mystery has been solved.

A report from Eurotest,  a partnership of 18 different automobile clubs, shows that public car parks in Spain are the tightest in Europe: Barcelona regulations, for instance, say that parking spots can be 2.2 metres wide and 4.5 metres long. That’s around 30 centimetres less in both width and length than the average.

To make parking in Spain even trickier, the average size of a car classified as “small” has been getting bigger, according to the Eurotest survey. All of which could explain why so many Spanish cars seem to have dents in them and why so many underground car park users in Spain can be seen hauling themselves over the gearbox and across the passenger seat to get out of their jammed-in vehicle.

In some Spanish hotels, the penny seems thankfully to have  dropped that a guest who spends half an hour inching his  hirecar between paint-scraped walls will not be in the best of moods afterwards. Instead they will send down a parking attendant to do it for you.