Seat of the dukes of Bavaria in the 13th century, then the residence of the Holy Roman Emperor and now a modern regional capital that some call "the northernmost Italian city", Munich bears witness in countless different ways to Bavaria's fascinating history.
Anna, Max and Tim have all known each other since kindergarten. Today, they live in different parts of Bavaria – not that it makes a difference, because Max and Tim need next to no time to get to Anna's new home of Munich by train. Anna is an excellent tour guide, showing them not only the city's famous landmarks but also the secret corners and special sights that don't get mentioned in any books.
As an architecture student, Anna unsurprisingly starts her route around the city at the Lenbachhaus gallery. The protected palace-like building is located in the Maxvorstadt district, and it houses the world's largest collection of art by painters associated with the Blue Rider group. This was one of the most important Expressionist and avant-garde movements in the history of modern art in Germany. Visitors to the gallery can also marvel at its many other paintings and installations from 19th- and 20th-century Munich. Another section of the building houses temporary exhibitions on a regular basis. These shows focus on major trends and big names in the contemporary art scene – Tim makes a note of what's coming soon and starts planning his next trip to the city.
After their visit to the museum, the trio want to eat something before the next sight. A few years ago, Max went to China. Since then, he often enthuses about the culinary delights he tasted in the country. Anna can hardly wait to show him the restaurant Fuyan. Just 300 m from the Lenbachhaus, this small eatery serves up authentic Sichuan cuisine and authentic Chinese tea. The chef even agrees to make Max's favourite dish on the basis of a single photo: spicy fried beans and chillis with Sichuan pepper and sauce.
Mention tourist hotspots in Bavaria and most people think of Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee. But Anna knows that if you're in Munich, you don't need to travel all the way to King Ludwig's fairytale castle out in the countryside. Munich has its own palace right in the centre of the city: the Residence, once the home of Bavaria's dukes, electors and kings. The region's history is literally written in the architecture and art works of the sprawling complex, which contains the largest Renaissance hall outside of Italy cheek by jowl with rich Rococo interiors and Neoclassical frescos and painted ceilings. From there, visitors can take a brief detour to the Dichtergarten park immediately to the north of the palace's famous Hofgarten. Largely overlooked, the small park is unfamiliar even to many of Munich's inhabitants. Its paths wind past tall trees and mounds, providing a charming, naturalistic contrast to the Hofgarten , with its strict symmetry and crowds of visitors.
From there, the itinerary leads back to Munich's main railway station, where the friends board a train to the placid suburb of Pasing west of the city centre. It's the site of another impressive building: Blutenburg castle, surrounded by greenery and dating back to the medieval era. The castle houses two things the trio is particularly eager to see: the library of children's and teenagers' literature, and the museum dedicated to writer Michael Ende. Children's classics such as "The Night of Wishes", which the friends had when learning to read, come to life against the backdrop of the late Gothic hunting lodge. The path back to Pasing station crosses the castle park along the Würm, Munich's second-largest river. One more surprise awaits the explorers at the station. In 2018, a local artist transformed the tunnel (Hermann-Hesse-Weg) that runs under the tracks. What were once grey concrete walls are now covered in colourful images that tell the story of Pasing in the style of a graphic novel.
Books, comics and stories have fired the friends' imaginations ever since they were little, when they used to have fun investigating incidents in their gardens and sitting rooms, just like their storybook heroes Emil and the Detectives. This taste for puzzles (and excitement) is something they've retained to this very day. Anna has the perfect suggestion to reconnect with their childhood games: Exit the Room's escape challenges in Schleissheimer Strasse, just a few minutes from the main station. Working together, the team has 60 minutes to solve puzzles, follow clues, find connections and display their detective skills. Just like old times, only better – this is how Tim, top tracker back in their kindergarten days, puts it. There's another thing that hasn't changed: after the fun, the three friends want something sweet, so they make a beeline for Lamington's Bakery, just 300 m from the escape rooms. Run by an Australian, the place sells fruity and sweet snacks from the other side of the world and is a real insider tip in Munich.
A perfect day with friends needs a perfect ending, so the trio makes its way to the Hi-Sky for a spin on the world's largest mobile big wheel. It's located right beside Ostbahnhof station. For just a few euros extra, they get a generous picnic basket full of food and a ride in the cabin decorated in Bavaria's blue-and-white colours. Seen against the splendour of the Alps in the background, Munich's main landmarks – the Allianz Arena, Frauenkirche church and Olympic park – suddenly look quite small.