Day 1,386 of Traveling the World | Albuquerque, New Mexico | November 17, 2021

Funny. Did you know that Albuquerque was famous for things other than being the filming location of Breaking Bad?? It is! It has a long and storied history. It has part of Route 66, the “Mother Road.” It is home to the world’s largest hot-air balloon festival every October, the International Balloon Fiesta. And, it hosts North America’s largest pow wow, the Gathering of Nations.

Six or seven years ago, we took the self-driving tour of most of the real-life filming locations from Breaking Bad. The people who bought Walter White’s home have multiple No Trespassing signs, and they sat in lawn chairs inside the open garage, watching that nobody trespassed! It looked exhausting. We looked, and took photos, from across the street. So, this trip, we did not repeat that tour.

Instead, we visited Old Town and took a walking tour. If we didn’t know we were in Albuquerque, we would have thought we were in Santa Fe. There are many very old buildings with second-story balconies and lots of covered sidewalks. There are bunches of dried red chili peppers everywhere, and we mean everywhere! As we walked around, we kept commenting to each other how hard the merchants worked to keep the area clean and interesting. There is a lot of attention to detail.

There is a pretty park in the center of Old Town with leaves the color of sunshine. One of the most notable landmarks is San Felipe de Neri Church (St. Philip Neri), dating to 1793, which replaced the previous structure from 1706 that collapsed. And Old Town has a Breaking Bad store – if we had a home in which to put our favorite things, we would have bought quite a few favorite things! But photos will have to suffice.

Inevitably, there were lots of sugar skull-inspired pieces of art for sale, including full-size statues. These are here year-round, and one was an entire store devoted to all things sugar skulls, rather than a “pop-up”store for Halloween or Dia de Los Muertos (the Mexican Day of the Dead). And there is marvelous New Mexico cuisine here, centering around the hatch chile – it has a unique flavor and spiciness, which could be said of the entire city. It was great walking around and getting more of a sense of the city’s history. (And, if you don’t know what Breaking Bad is, the last three photos from the store won’t mean a thing to you – if there is anyone alive who isn’t familiar with the best television series ever created.)

The pretty center of Old Town Albuquerque
San Felipe de Neri Church, 1793
The busy interior of San Felipe de Neri
A shopping plaza with covered sidewalks and balconies
For the Love of Salsa…and a great bench for people-watching (did you notice the dried chile peppers?)
A cafe with cactus and mariachi musicians – it has it all!
A small, colorful shopping plaza
Wow! Lots going on here!
From the Santisima Art Gallery
So…is she scared, or scary? Let us know!
Colorful, happy, skeletal flowered-skirted mermaids. What’s not to love?
A HAPPY sugar skull – ready for his close-up. Oops! This IS his close-up.
Another view of the park, with – you guessed it – sunshine leaves!
Dancing Crow Gallery (did you notice the dried chili peppers?)
It’s hard to tell what this is, but it’s a pretty fountain with a bucket scooping up water and pouring it back in – cactus in front, of course
We liked the stylized wings of this coffeehouse
One of the gorgeous, interesting courtyards with stores and cafes
A sculpture park
A very weathered old trough now used as a planter, but the flowers seem to have gone missing. We liked its rusticness.
Trying to be all things to all people (and make a little cash while doing so), this business is impressive…it is an Indian Art Gallery, a Restaurant, an Indian Gift Shop, and a Souvenir Outlet. If you can’t see the sign beneath the Community Bulletin Board, it says, of course, “Restaurant Entrance Through Gift Shop.” (And, did you notice the dried chile peppers?)
One of the shopping plazas announced the names of its stores with overhead hanging barrels
The Breaking Bad store offered for sale these glass prayer candles with pictures of some of the show’s characters. What’s that? Blasphemous, you say? Well…maybe!
Some of the t-shirts for sale
…and a little shrine to the famous Los Pollos Hermanos of Gus Fring