9th Joint Meeting of
the European Software Engineering Conference and
the ACM SIGSOFT Symposium
on the Foundations of Software Engineering
Q: What is the weather like?
In August the weather is normally warm; evenings can be pretty cool. For more information check this Wikipedia page
Q: Do I need a visa to enter Russia?
You can check it here
Q: What about the security situation?
A: Saint Petersburg is a large, cosmopolitan city, similar to many European capitals. The usual precautions apply but there is no particular security concern. Security problems were reported in the 1990s when Russia was experiencing turmoil, but you will see no trace of them today.
Q: Is tap water potable in Saint Petersburg?
A: No! Please do not drink tap water unless it has been boiled.
Q: How good is public transportation in Saint Petersburg?
A: The subway is very reliable with trains every 3 minutes or so. There is a subway station within 7 minutes walk of the conference venue. A single ride costs Rur28 (about $1). Ground transportation is less reliable due to traffic jams, but usable.A minimum cab fare is Rur300 (about $10); a cab from the airport to the city center can cost from Rur500 to 2000 ($17-65) depending on the company and the car.
Q: How expensive is eating out?
For eating out in the center of Saint Petersburg you have a wide range of choices, from fast food (~$5) to up-scale restaurants (~$60 for a two-course meal). If you are in the mood for inexpensive food with traditional Russian twist, we recommend Teremok
: a fast-food chain that serves Russian pancakes "blini"; they have a bunch of kiosks and restaurants all over the city, for example at Nevsky 60.
Q: Should I bring my family? Is Saint Petersburg kid-friendly?
By all means! There is no end of museums to visits and sights to admire. Many excursions are possible, to the imperial castles in the neighborhood (Pavlovsk, Pushkin, Peterhof) and further (Novgorod); see the tour packages which the conference will offer. For children, there are plenty of attractions, such as the zoo
, the oceanarium
, the planetarium
, and an indoor waterpark
Q: What's the weirdest thing to see?
A: Barring any spooky software engineering results at ESEC/FSE, but not for the faint of heart, that would be Peter the Great's "Kunstkammer", one of the world's first museums, with its accumulation of kinky objects from all around including formalin-preserved monstrous human fetuses.
Q: Is it true that the bridges open at night? Why?
A: Yes, the main bridges on the Neva open from approximately 1:30 to 4:30 AM (using a staggered schedule) to let ship traffic pass. Especially in the summer it's an occasion for public celebration - and one for frustration if after a night on the town you end up on the wrong side. Most or all hotels recommended to ESEC/FSE participants will be on the same side, in the town center.
Q: Will I be able to interact in English?
In Saint Petersburg and other Russian big cities you will find that that, predictably, people who deal with tourists speak basic English, and sometimes French or German. The level of English in the general population varies, but should you find yourself in need of help, for example in a bus to find out when you should get out, there will always be someone who speaks English.
As when visiting any country it never hurts to learn a few common phrases; see for example this resource
and several other such sites. But here is our specific advice: if you do not know any Russian, take at least the time to learn the Cyrillic alphabet. It will make your stay much more fruitful. Besides, assume you are hungry and walk past a sign that says PECTOPAH: do you want to walk past it without realizing that it reads out as RESTORAN (restaurant). This site
claims it will take you five minutes to learn Cyrillic, and this one
(more realistically) that you will need two hours. Either way it's worth it.