Business of parking makes cash, but often flouts law, clogs roads

Outside the nightclubs there is double parking as well as cars left on sidewalks and on traffic islands in the middle of central roads in Athens. Pireos Street and Iera Odos, where most of the large clubs are concentrated, are often jammed with many parked cars on both sides. In Kolonaki Square it is impossible to drive through on busy nights when most people go out. For years, parking at night has been a highly lucrative enterprise that is either legal (if the club has a private car park), partly legal or outright illegal. Traffic wardens and municipalities do nothing but look on – at the expense of local residents. It is 11.30 at night and a large jeep stops in the middle of Loukianou Street. The driver climbs out and hands over the keys to a young man who is supposed to park the vehicle. A little later the jeep is double-parked and occupies a large part of the road but the driver has saved himself the trouble of finding somewhere to park. Prices for the service start at 5-10 euros and can reach 50 euros, depending on the driver’s mood and how badly he wants to impress his escort. The keys are kept in a special locker found at the entrance of the club. There are also legal parking attendants, such as those who work in large clubs that have private car parks. Many ask for their money in advance but they will most likely be paid once the car has been delivered to the owner.

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