Hi! It's me, Bruno the dachshund. Us sausage dogs are famous for our curiosity and taste for adventure, and I'm definitely no exception. Whenever I go somewhere, I start exploring my surroundings straight away, sniffing out the good things and looking for my next adventure. All I have to do is pick a destination in Bavaria, get on a train and find the most exciting activities when I get there. Now I want to tell you what they are.
If you like spending time with animals, then you should definitely get to know some of my friends. But Bavaria's a big place, so it's hard to know where you should go to see animals. That's why I'm going to tell you the names of five great destinations – they're my favourites, and you're bound to meet lots of friendly creatures there.
Augsburg is the third-largest city in Bavaria after Munich and Nuremberg. It's actually one of Germany's oldest cities too, because it was founded by the Romans. Now, it has lots of historical sights for you to see, like its cathedral and the museum about the famous Fugger and Welser families. But it has more than just history: its zoo is one of my favourite places to go. It's home to over 1,200 of my friends, which puts it in the top 20 zoos in Germany. Once you get inside, you can see familiar animals like donkeys and little otters at close quarters, but you can also say hello to exotic creatures like elephants, monkey and lions. One gang I really love visiting are the ring-tailed lemurs. They have their own special climbing pen at the zoo, and they often do acrobatic tricks over my head when I'm there – and sometimes even on the footpath right in front of me. But if you asked me what I liked most at the zoo, I'd have to say it was feeding time for the seals. Every day during the summer, at 2 and 3.30 in the afternoon, you can watch the keepers as they give the seals and sea lions their food. The zoo also has a very special attraction: its own miniature train! The train runs at weekends and during the school holidays. It doesn't cost much, and a trip takes you over bridges, through tunnels and past waterfalls – it's a real adventure in miniature. Sundays and bank holidays are even more exciting, because then you can tour the zoo on board a proper steam train. It might be small, but it made me feel like Luke the Engine Driver from the Michael Ende story.
Augsburg's puppet theatre
Speaking of stories, my second highlight in Augsburg is the city's famous puppet theatre, called "Augsburger Puppenkiste" in German. People come from all over the world to visit to the theatre. They not only get see Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver, but animal stars like Urmel the Dinosaur and Puss in Boots as well. Of course, these aren't live animals like at the zoo, but the puppeteers are so good at their job and the backdrops on the stage are so realistic that you can't help thinking the characters in the theatre's shows are really alive. You can also see your favourite figures up close if you go to the theatre's museum. It is located just upstairs from the room with the stage, and it contains the most famous marionettes who appear in the plays. Jim, Luke and Urmel are all here, complete with the original backdrops for their plays. Though live shows only take place here in Augsburg, everyone who grows up in Germany is familiar with these stars from television. The building has two small cinemas, where you can sit down and enjoy the TV programmes with the theatre's wooden heroes. But there is one more thing for you to see. The Fuggers were one of the city's most powerful merchant families in the 15th and 16th centuries. The theatre is showing a special exhibition about this family and how they lived. It is on until November 2019, and it also tells you about different kinds of puppet theatre traditions that existed in the towns and cities where the Fugger family did business.
Nuremberg Toy Museum
I have a confession to make: I discovered the next destination just by chance. One day, I was in another Bavarian city, enjoying the smell of its famous sausages and gingerbread. Can you guess where that was? It was Nuremberg, in the Franconia region in the north of the state. There, I also found out that the city has been famous for toys for no less than 600 years. During the Middle Ages, countless toymakers were based in Nuremberg. Later on, they started making tin figures and toys out of metal. After hearing this, you won't be surprised when I tell you that one of the world's best toy museums is located here. Wooden and metal toys, dolls and play shops, Barbies and Playmobil sets – the history of games and playtime comes to life at Nuremberg's toy museum. If you'd like someone to tell you about the exhibits as you walk around, then ask for my friend, Emma the teddy bear. She knows everything about the museum and the toys on display, and she'll join you on your tour. You're bound to see one of my favourite people – the teddy made by Steiff, a famous toymaker. Please say hello for me!
Bad Windsheim's open-air museum
Hands up if you've always wanted to go time travelling! At Franconia's open-air museum, you'll feel like you've gone back in time when you walk around its 100 buildings such as farm sheds, mills, breweries, castles and workshops. If you go to Bad Windsheim, you'll see what life was like for the people living and working in the surrounding countryside long ago. And even better, you'll also meet more of my animal friends here. After all, you've never heard of farms without animals! Pigs, horses, sheep and cows live in the sheds at the museum. Some of them are old breeds, just like the ones that people kept hundreds of years ago. If you've ever wondered what exactly animals do on a farm, how butter gets made from milk and why people shear sheep, the museum will give you the answers. You have to pick the right day though: the people at the museum only explain these things at certain times. Sunday is a good day to visit, and so are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday during Bavaria's school holidays. Ask your parents to look online just to make sure when it's best to go. The open-air museum has all kinds of other events for you and your friends, and the website has information about them too.
Outing to Mittenwald
Can you jump as far as a hare? Do you know what a blackbird looks like? All of the answers will be revealed when you go for a day out to Mittenwald! The special discovery hiking trail teaches you about the natural world: there are 12 stops with lots of information about the animals and plants that live in the region. I really loved the quiz about the different kinds of trees that grow here, and I had a lot of fun comparing how far I can jump with what other animals can do. There is also a stand for birdwatching. You have to be as quiet as a mouse, but if you are, you might get to see my feathered friends, the big owl and woodpecker. And if you're not sure who is sitting in a tree in front of you, just check the information tables – they'll tell you who is who in the bird world.