I spent the first half of this week in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, on a set visit for The Dark Is Rising, the first film from the new Fox-Walden partnership. I’ll be talking about my impressions of Bucharest and its packs of wild dogs and astonishingly hot women in part two of this little travelogue, but first here are some pictures…

You might think this dog belongs to these two women, but he doesn’t. He’s one of the dozens and dozens of feral dogs we saw in Bucharest. They were even wandering around on the lot of the studio where The Dark Is Rising was filming. Most Romanians seemed to pay the dogs no mind, even when they were near children. The dogs themselves seemed pretty good natured, and none of them would accept my command of ‘Kill Ed Douglas! Kill!’ Perhaps they don’t speak English.

This fountain was one of the best things I saw in Bucharest. You can’t really get a sense of the scale here, so…

If you look you can see that there are cars driving through the fountain. It’s huge, maybe four blocks long, and set up in concentric circles of fountains. A street cuts right through the middle of it. I theorize that this is a popular gay spot, since most of the guys we saw hanging around looked like gay hustlers to me. Not that I would know.

The communist-style apartment blocks were teeming with people and laundry and signs of grim life. This lovely building was completely gutted.

Right in the heart of the city lies the ruins of one of Vlad the Impaler’s citadels.

Vlad Tepes, never Tepid.

Lying in the ruins of the citadel… an upside down cross! And it’s broken! Spoooky.

A plaque at the citadel site, written in the gibberish they speak in Romania. Hungarian, maybe.

This is one of the images of Bucharest that will stick with me forever. The other is an abandoned and gutted communist bureaucratic building with a huge Sony Ericsson banner across the front of it. I like the image of the defeat of Communism in that (which I was unable to photograph) and I like the image of gross American consumerism blotting the face of this really lovely building.

After seeing how these Romanian maniacs drive, you couldn’t pay me to get in a car as flimsy and small as that one. I love the painting on the side, though. I need that if I ever get a Rape Van. Maybe with a sword-wielding barbarian in the background.

The goofballs I walked around Bucharest with. On the left is the very nice guy from JoBlo whose name I totally forgot. In the middle is Ed Douglas of Coming Soon, apparently unfazed by my constant exhortations of feral dogs to kill him. On the right is Kara Warner, reporting for Cinema Confidential and Geek Monthly. She would later become the target of much macking by Kyle, who you may remember as the Make-out Bandit from my London trip photos.

There’s plenty of shitty Communist era architecture to go around in Bucharest (some in this shot), but I was pleased to find some remnants of a nicer time still standing. In the foreground is a camp set up for the Grand Prix race happening in the city this weekend.

This is the Parliamentary Palace, which is the second (or maybe third?) biggest building on Earth. The Pentagon is definitely the biggest. It was built by evil Communist dictator NicolaeCeausescu, who bulldozed one-sixth of Bucharest to build this beast. Those demolitions explain why there are so many dogs on the streets, by the way. The sign in the lower right hand corner says ‘No Pictures!’ and a security guard starting waving at us to cut out the photography. Ed Douglas took pictures of this fucking building from every angle (I swear, we moved 2 degrees to the left and he took another shot), so email him and ask for the 360 degree tour.

This is a tomb of a Romanian king. Nobody knew who he was. It’s on the property of Media Pro Studios, where The Dark Is Rising is being shot. We weren’t allowed to take any photos of the sets, but we were kindly allowed to take snaps of this really incredible looking structure, which is just tucked away in the middle of the woods, with no signage or anything. It was like playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons and stumbling across a ruin. No orcs were sighted, however.