By Ken Hegan for MSN

This is it. The biggest week of the year for fans of AMC’S critically-acclaimed Breaking Bad series. After a torturous 12-month wait, the final eight episodes begin Sunday August 11th.

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Cooking up meth tourism in Albuquerque, NM Photo: Ursula Coyote / CP Images

Never seen the show?

Set in dusty Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad is a harrowing drama about a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, who’s suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer. He can’t afford his chemo treatments (and worries about impoverishing his family), so he raises the cash by cooking meth.

Turns out he’s an exceptionally good chef. So good, in fact, he cooks and kills his way up the drug chain and becomes his alter ego, ‘Heisenberg’, an increasingly deranged kingpin.

I won’t tell you anything more. Start watching and you’ll become a junkie needing multiple episodes a night. When you catch up to this fifth and final season, you’ll discover two things:

1) The last episode ended with a man sitting on a toilet

2) You’ll get so hooked on the show, you’ll want to take the Breaking Bad trolley tour in Albuquerque.

The BaD tour is the first ever Breaking Bad trolley tour. The open-air, 34-seat bus takes you around tons of exterior locations from the show including: the car wash, Walter White’s house and condo, and Jesse Pinkman’s party house (below).

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The tour also visits Wendy’s ratbag Crossroads Motel, Tuco’s headquarters (in real life, it didn’t explode and is still located upstairs from the Java Joe’s coffee shop), Saul Goodman’s law office, Los Pollos Hermanos, and more. Here’s Walter White’s house where Heisenberg totally hooked me up.

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The 3.5-hour tour costs $65 (tax included) and has fun trivia questions and even a restroom break at Twisters Grill, the real life spot of Breaking Bad’s fictional Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant.

Albuquerque’s flat, mild, and sunny (310 days of sun a year), so you can also see plenty of these locations on bicycle. I recommend going on a cruiser bike tour with Routes Rentals & Tours. You’ll see many of the downtown Breaking Bad locations (e.g., Hank’s DEA office building, and the spot where Walter drove into those gun thugs) plus you’ll see the building where Bill Gates launched Microsoft.

Just don’t take any blue sky meth before climbing on your mountain bike. Sure, you’ll start fast but you’ll quickly get lost and eventually toothless.

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WestTwo other Breaking Bad themed businesses are worth visiting.

At Great Face & Body spa, co-owners Keith and André West-Harrison, sell blue bath salts that they’ve dubbed Bathing Bad.

Their ‘recipe’ is such a success, they offer classes on how to cook ’em just like Heisenberg. Their spa also offers a range of eco/deluxe spa treatments. But this month is all about Breaking Bad, so expect to sit in the waiting lounge with other fans of the show.

Finally, another must-visit spot is The Candy Lady a specialty sweet shop and a New Mexico tradition for over 26 years.

In the early seasons of Breaking Bad, the proprietor, Debbie Hall, supplied the ‘blue ice’ candy sheets that Walter White and Jesse Pinkman cooked. Eventually the producers must’ve figured out how to cook their own prop meth even cheaper. Apparently prop candy is just like the drug world. Someone’s always trying to take over your turf.

The Candy Lady sells bags of blue-coloured meth candy that look just like the bath salts, but taste a helluva lot better. But my favourite items in the store? A row of hand-designed Pez dispensers painted to look like key cast members from Breaking Bad.

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Enjoy the final eight episodes…and hopefully we’ll find out soon why Walter spent his birthday buying weapons in a Denny’s parking lot.

— Ken Hegan

Read all Ken’s travel stories here

Twitter: @KenHegan

Photos copyright Ken Hegan (tour pics) and Great Face & Body (spa pic)

 

Ken was a guest of the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more info, visit itsatrip.org

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