Cardiff – city of cultural giants such as Roald Dahl, Ivor Novello, Shirley Bassey and Gillian Clark. And not forgetting Shakin’ Stevens and Charlotte Church of course. The dramatic cityscape of the Welsh capital continues to inspire, serving as the principal backdrop for modern film and television series including Doctor Who, Torchwood, Casualty, Sherlock and Being Human. And it is this city that plays host to the ITI Conference 2017.
Historically, Cardiff is a polylingual city. Not only will you hear and see Welsh in every direction, but the city’s history as one of the world’s busiest ports at the height of the British Empire also attracted a sizeable number of immigrants from across the world – the city now being home to one of the longest established Somali and Yemeni communities in the UK.
Cardiff’s industrial days are now long gone and vast areas of the city have been radically renovated over the past twenty years, paving the way for Cardiff to become the commercial and financial hub that it is today.
The high number of overseas students attending the city’s three universities, the 15 million annual visitors and the international sport, trade and cultural events hosted in Cardiff every week mean that it is far from uncommon to hear French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Arabic or Japanese spoken around the city.
One of the city’s most fascinating linguistic attributes is the way it pays homage to its twin cities, not only naming roads after them but also retaining the native language version, so look out for Boulevard de Nantes and Stuttgarter Strasse in the city centre. Not to mention Roald Dahl Plas in Cardiff Bay, an ode to the Cardiffian author and his Norwegian heritage.
The Welsh capital is therefore a natural magnet for translators and home to ITI Cymru Wales, a network of well-established and recently-arrived translation professionals who have made their home in and around the city.
Cardiff has changed dramatically over the past twenty years and now offers everything you would expect from a cosmopolitan European capital, and more.
Stepping out of Cardiff Central Station, engineered by none other than Isambard Kingdom Brunel, visitors are greeted with the spectacular spikes of the Principality Stadium (formerly known as the Millennium Stadium) – a mecca for rugby fans. They needn’t stroll much farther along the bank of the river Taff to find Cardiff Arms Park tucked away – home to the Cardiff Blues rugby team.
To the east of Central Station is The Hayes. Between 2006 and 2009, the area around this public square was completely reconstructed and a massive extension to the St David’s Dewi Sant shopping centre was built. Cardiff is now the sixth busiest shopping destination in the UK. The Hayes is also home to the city’s contemporary Central Library and the grandiose Old Library building, which houses the Cardiff Story museum and Yr Hen Lyfrgell – the city’s Welsh culture and language centre that opened in 2016.
The city’s Victorian arcades and their boutiques are one of its most dearly-held attributes. The entrances can be found along St Mary Street and Castle Street. Royal Arcade was the first to be built (in 1858) and the total length of Cardiff’s arcades is almost 1 km. Heading north along St Mary Street will bring you through the Castle Quarter to Cardiff Castle – a historic Roman and Norman fort and Victorian Gothic revival mansion. Look out for the peacocks roaming the castle grounds. To the west of Cardiff Castle is an entrance to the vast Bute Park, host of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Flower Show Cardiff every year and the perfect place for a leisurely stroll.
Heading north-east beyond the castle is Cardiff’s Edwardian civic centre. Built in 1906, its majestic City Hall is made out of Portland stone. Right next door is the National Museum (free entry), which also houses the National Museum of Art.
Head south back towards the city centre and you will come to Queen Street – one of Cardiff’s busiest shopping streets – and Cardiff Queen Street, the city’s other main railway station.
In 1999, works began to regenerate the old docklands in the south of the city. The area is now known as Cardiff Bay. Standing on the mouths of the rivers Taff and Ely, the Mermaid Quay area is a sophisticated hub of culture and dining.
The red Pierhead Building still stands on the waterfront as a reminder of the city’s industrial heritage, but it is now surrounded by more contemporary buildings including the Wales Millennium Centre (a performing arts venue), the Senedd (seat of the Welsh Assembly), the Norwegian Church (built a century and a half ago for visiting sailors from the country’s merchant fleet), a Doctor Who museum and the BBC’s new drama studios. Make time to take a leisurely cruise around the bay on one of Cardiff’s waterbuses.
On the far west side of Cardiff Bay is the Cardiff International Sports Village. This area is home to the Cardiff International Pool (with a 50 m pool and indoor waterpark), Cardiff International White Water (a white water rafting centre) and the recently-opened Ice Arena Wales (recreational ice rink).
The five-mile circular route around the bay (via Penarth) is a popular option for walking, running or cycling.
Cardiff Airport is served by airlines including Flybe (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Cork, Paris, Munich, Düsseldorf, Milan, Verona, Dublin, Berlin and Rome), Eastern Airways (Newcastle, Aberdeen), Citywing (Anglesey), Aer Lingus (Dublin), KLM (Amsterdam) and Vueling (Barcelona, Alicante, Malaga and Palma). For international destinations not served directly, it is advisable to connect in Amsterdam or Paris.
From Cardiff Airport, the T9 shuttle bus operates to Custom House Street in the city centre (a 20-minute walk away from the conference venue). You can also take a train directly to Cardiff Queen Street station (a shuttle bus operates from the airport terminal to Rhoose Cardiff Airport station). Taxis are also available outside the Arrivals hall.
The city’s main stations are Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street. The conference venue is a 6-minute walk from Cardiff Queen Street. Please note the area in front of Central station will be undergoing major renovation works at the time of the conference. It is therefore advisable to change at Cardiff Central and take a train one stop to Cardiff Queen Street for the conference venue.
While Cardiff’s new central bus station is being constructed, National Express coaches operate from Sophia Gardens, a 23-minute walk away. Megabus coaches operate from Kingsway (in front of Cardiff City Hall), a 12-minute walk away.
From London or the south, take the M4 towards Cardiff. Don’t forget money for the Severn Bridge toll (£6.60 cash/card for cars in 2016, likely to rise in 2017)! From the Midlands or the north, take the M5 to J8. Follow the M50 to Ross, A40 to Monmouth and then A449 to Newport, which meets the M4 at J24, bypassing the Severn Bridge.
The conference venue is situated on Newport Road. Leave at J29 (Cardiff South and Cardiff East) and follow the A48 (M). Leave at the junction marked Cardiff (E) / Docks. Exit first left at the roundabout and keep left for the city centre, exiting via the slip road. Go right at the next roundabout to join Newport Road. Follow this road for 2 miles. The venue will be on your left and is 14 storeys high. The hotel has on-site parking, which is chargeable. There are also multiple car parks across the city centre.