A Coruña, June 19-20th 2014
A Coruña is the main city of Galicia, the northwestern region of Spain. A Coruña is a busy port located at the entrance of an estuary on the Atlantic coast. The city features a complete offer of leisure activities ranging from beach sports along the seafront that surrounds it (surf, sailing, biking, etc) to a wide program of cultural events, an active shopping area, restaurants, tapas bars and a crowded night life. Historically, it served as the regional capital between 1833 and 1982, before being replaced by Santiago de Compostela. The city has its own English (Corunna) and French (La Corogne) place names, mostly because of a famous battle that took place in the Elviña Campus in January 1809 when Napoleonic forces attacked a retreating British army trying to embark on ships for their return to Great Britain. In that campus, few meters away from the monolith which recalls that battle is located the Computer Science Faculty of A Coruña, the conference venue.
Corunna is a modern and active city with many events (concerts, expositions, sports, etc) all over the year. The most emblematic monument is the Tower of Hercules (recently recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site) an ancient Roman lighthouse with a XVIII century facade. You can get more information in the A Coruña Tourism Website which includes an interactive guide for mobile devices, or Turgalicia site. There is also a busy night life, especially in the area delimited by the streets Orzán, Galera and Barrera.
Warning: if you plan to have a bath at Orzan or Riazor beaches next to the hotel, respect the beach signposting and check that the green flag is hoisted. The waves in the northern coast of Corunna can be very dangerous during or after a windy day. For a family excursion, San Amaro beach is a second, more protected option. Another good choice for a funny family beach excursion is taking the Santa Cristina boat at the Corunna Dársena (telephone +34 608 084767): you will have a 30 minutes trip by boat to Santa Cristina beach and can make the return trip in the same boat afterwards.
Any night is good to enjoy A Coruña but says a popular song that is better to enter A Coruña at night than at daytime in the heaven. Each time the night takes over the city, casting their shadows over squares and evocative corners, it seems as if the A Coruña soul, that intimate space of experiences and memories, has been freed for showing all its glory. But if any night is good to arrive, the Night of San Juan, the most important festive milestone throughout the annual cycle, is certainly a magical, unique, unequalled with any other night of the year.
The fire worship at the solstice night has always been strong in the city. Streets and squares rival to get the best and highest bonfire that night full of poetic meaning. From Los Castros to Monte Alto, from Palavea to Agra del Orzán, passing through Eiris or Mallos, in any corner of any neighborhood, stands a fire or simply a communal sardine barbecue for celebrating the shortest night of the year which welcomes the newly released Summer. What really matters is to gather around the fire to celebrate. It is already at the afternoon, when the party moves to the promenade as it passes through the Riazor beach, there, music groups, bands of bugles and drums and bagpipes, warm the heat up the night while gradually, thousands of small fires appear in the beaches of Riazor and Orzán.
For a good summary, look at this article about A Coruña in The Guardian.
If you haven't been in Spain before you may get initially puzzled by the Spanish timetable. This may even become stranger in Galicia due to its location in the Central European Timezone (+2 UTC), despite of being 8.39ºW from Greenwich. For instance, on the first day of LPNMR-13 the sun will rise at 8:13 am and the sunset will be at 20:44.
As a general rule, subtract two hours from the clock time to get an approximation to your home timetable. For instance, most shops open around 9:00 a.m., and the stop for lunch would be from 14:00 to 16:00. In the evening, shops will close at 20:00 and dinner time usually goes from 21:00 to 23:00. After that, you may easily find activity in the streets until 1:00 a.m. or much later especially in Summer or during the weekend. Of course, if you want to try this, don't forget sleeping your siesta.
Power plug types in Spain are either the Europlug (type C) or the Schuko plug (type F) with 220-240V/50Hz:
C-type Schuko plug
Generally speaking, A Coruña is a cheap city. You can check a quite approximate estimation of the cost of life at numbeo.com. The city is usually included among the 10 safest cities in Spain (in its turn, a safe country inside the European Union). Bargaining is not common, excepting in street stands or fair posts. Bills in restaurants and bars typically include service costs, so tips are something completely optional.
Emergency phone: 112
Tele-taxi: +34 981 287777