“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~Roald Dahl
I was really excited about going to Cardiff, because that’s where two of my favorite shows are made: Doctor Who and Torchwood. In Doctor Who, there is a rift in space and time in Cardiff, which occasionally influences the Doctor’s adventures. Torchwood is a spin-off show of Doctor Who in which a team deals with the everyday problems that are caused by the rift, usually involving aliens and that sort of thing. Because all of the episodes of the Torchwood episodes take place in Cardiff, I recognized a lot of the locations while I was visiting. Specifically Cardiff Bay.
This is about a mile or two south of the city centre, and it’s where a lot of the performing arts things are. The weird-looking building is the Millennium Centre (called the “armadillo” by the locals—you can see why!), which is the performing arts centre of Cardiff. The words on it are two lines from a Welsh poem: “Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen” and then the English translation: “Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration.”
The plaza in front of the centre where the reflective water tower and pillars are is called Roald Dahl Plass, named after the Cardiff-born author of classics such as James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Fantastic Mr Fox. This is where the Rift is. The Doctor refuels his police-box-shaped space ship (the TARDIS) here—see photo below—and there is an invisible lift on one of the pavement stones that descends to the Torchwood headquarters.
Sometimes it can be really amazing to see something in real life even after you’ve seen it countless times in pictures, shows, and movies. A lot of London was like this for me, where I couldn’t believe I was finally seeing the London Eye and listening to Big Ben chime, and Cardiff Bay was definitely like this as well.