The parking stories of Soller
Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
Tuesday 14th April 2015
Photograph by Rachel Fox
I have to admit to owning the most bashed and scratched car in Soller.  I use it as a badge of honour to prove the many times I have to go in and out of narrow streets and impossible bends.  The final straw was in the underground car park of the smartest block of flats in Soller with driving room for Noddy.  After a couple of resprays and expensive repairs we resolved never to have the car bodywork sorted again until we moved house and got a car park with plenty of room.  Those days have arrived and I now live above the best public car park in Soller with enough room to park a hundred tanks. I am holding on to my scratched car though – I really don’t want the responsibility of trying to keep a new car pristine.  Friends look at me sadly as I hold on to this wreck – ‘it’s not good for your image’ they say.  As for me the freedom of the most scratched car in Soller is an image I will hold on to for just a little while longer.
I now live in the very centre of Soller where the largest amount of ‘new build’ took place about ten years ago.  This was on land that was a legacy to the Town Hall on strict conditions.  The kind lady who bequeathed the land to the City of Soller did so on the understanding that a home for the elderly, a children’s day nursery and a public park were built alongside the new houses and apartments. The place took shape alongside the tram track and this mini garden city emerged.  Of course there was controversy and the huge car park remained resolutely locked and not used by anyone except those that had bought one of the buildings above it.  This vast, purpose built building was the subject of litigation and all sorts until 18 months ago when it finally opened to the public.
That should be the good news but as is often the case in our bit of paradise the communication goes a bit off course.  This car park is accessed from the roundabout heading for the Centre of Soller.  Follow the sign to the Caltraves car park and you are swept into a great space with lots of public parking alongside the local resident’s private, paid for parking. So far so good because you have probably failed to notice – like 75% of the users – that it is a ‘time restricted car park’ – open from 7am to 9 pm each day.  You pay for parking from Monday to Saturday and on Sunday it is free.
My evening walks with the dog from our new home have an interesting twist because I always take my car key with me.  As soon as I get into the street at about 9.30 – 10 pm there are anxious people milling about as they return to find their cars are locked in the car park and they just don’t know what to do. I can let them in and out of the car park on my  car key and other drivers arriving home at that time do the same thing.  This happens every day so something has to happen before the ‘storming of the car park’ becomes a bigger battle than the Soller Firo. The signage is obviously not good enough and there is no staff there to explain.  The frustration of the visitors is not a good look for Soller.
Meanwhile down in the Port of Soller there is another Cinderella car park that locks up before your evening is over.  That one is very interesting because the pedestrian exit is just about big enough for a Fiat Panda to get through – with an inch to spare.  So there are stories galore about the exit strategies from that one too.  The notices in the car park are multilingual so be patient and read the instructions carefully and the timings should be revealed.
This week in Soller we have roundabouts being created, roads being tarmaced and streets closed for essential works. The stories of our week have been about the inconvenience and improvisations necessary to get on with day to day life.  It’s now nearly all done and the accessible Soller will soon return ready to welcome thousands of new visitors this year. There is of course the option of arriving by train or bus.
  I hope I have saved some of you from being locked in my car park.  My best advice is to read the notices before you leave your car in the  lockable car parks of Soller. In the meantime look out for the worst car in the City being driven around by me – don’t feel sorry for me – just envy my freedom …

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