This really should have been the first thing I posted on this blog. I was introduced to New Mexico through Breaking Bad, and it’s the show that took me to that part of the US in the first place, but it’s become a favourite place to visit, filled with good friends, hot chile (yes, that spelling), the most stunning landscape and the biggest skies.
I’m going to use photos in this post from a number of my trips there and I’ll just post locations from the show. The other parts of New Mexico – Abiquiu, Santa Fe and everything in between – will be in a separate entry. I’ve also decided to split it into two posts because sorting through these photos is an epic job and there’s just too many to throw at you all at once.
So I’ll rewind to May 2014 and my first trip to Albuquerque. I’d agreed to meet up with two local Instagrammers, one who was a huge fan of the show and was working on the first Breaking Bad fan convention and a NM native who enjoyed exploring the outdoors and who was willing to show off the state’s scenery.
Five trips later – and one lined up in the Spring – I’ve visited most of the locations I can find. Some have changed a lot over the years and some are sadly long gone.
SPOILERS IN THIS POST FOR BREAKING BAD. HOWEVER, IF YOU’VE NOT YET SEEN IT, I DESPAIR.
Walter White’s House
The house doesn’t look like this anymore. Sadly, because of idiots who can’t respect her property, Fran and her husband have put up fences and changed the exterior. She’s a wonderful lady and this photo was taken just after she had taken us inside for a coffee (the interior of Walt’s house was a studio, they just filmed the outside of the house) but thanks to people throwing pizzas on her roof and turning up in the middle of the night demanding to be shown around, things had to change.
When we went in for a chat she showed us the pool, where of course some of the key scenes were filmed, but she respectfully asked for no photos.
In reality this is just around the corner from Chuck McGill’s house in Better Call Saul – but BCS hadn’t even been considered the first time I saw this house back in 2014.
Another one from my first trip to NM. I honestly expected to get to see Walter White’s house and maybe one or two other locations that first day, but my equally nerdy companion for the day insisted I saw as much as I could.
Most famous amongst Breaking Bad fans for being used as Tuco’s Place (where Walter shows his skills with fulminated mercury – “and just a little tweak of chemistry”), Java Joe’s is a fantastic place to grab some NM food and the coffee is outstanding.
One of the many wonderful things about the show is that some of the locations fit the characters perfectly. Lydia would definitely eat at The Grove. Mike would eat at Loyola’s. I eat at the Grove every time I’m in Albuquerque because it’s fresh and tasty – but you have to get there early to beat the queues.
Hank’s house is nestled in the foothills of the Sandias and I may have got a little bit overexcited when I saw the garage door was open – not only where the famous Schraderbrau was brewed, but where Hank punched Walter after confronting him. Oh, and Schraderbrau is a real thing now!
Again, I can imagine a character like Wendy hanging out here. I pass it every time I go from the airport to downtown ABQ/Corrales.
Another surprise visit! In November 2014 I visited the huge industrial laundry which is home to the meth superlab. Like the vacuum store, it’s just a regular place with people going about their work who probably wonder what people like me are doing posing next to the machines.
Miguel and I went to Gardunos on my first day in Albuquerque. I went back for dinner there later that year, November 2014, where I celebrated my 40th birthday working at the Breaking Bad Fan Fest and eating hot food with some of the people who worked on the show – and with fellow fans. At the end of the table is Jeremiah Bitsui (Victor) and wearing the black t shirt is Alex Gianopoulos, locations manager for Breaking Bad and Preacher.
I’ve stayed at the Doubletree Hotel a couple of times which overlooks the Plaza. The phone booth isn’t there any more but you can see where Walt sat waiting to meet with Jesse.
To round off this first post of my locations, here’s one a little further out of town. Just over an hour outside Albuquerque is Lamy, and nearby there’s a particular trestle we needed to see. It’s the location for “Dead Freight” – where we see Drew, the tarantula, and of course the train heist. One of my favourite episodes in the entire series.
That’s it for the first batch. The next post has my favourite location of all time – and one of my favourite places I’ve ever visited.
The only reason I’ve been able to see most of these is because of the generous friends who are equally passionate (either about the show or the scenery) and their wheels. MASSIVE kudos to Marc Valdez and his encyclopaedic knowledge of the show’s locations and for being a great Scavenger Hunt team member! Also to Frank and Jackie who run the Breaking Bad RV Tours of Albuquerque who I’ve seen a bunch of times and who have satisfied my geeky soul.
Other locations posts I’ve written: