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Monday, December 26, 2011

Traditionally...
Depending of which country we talk about traditions vary a lot. In Europe there is Christmas Eve, which is the main day during Christmas, followed by the 1. and the 2. day of Christmas, after which most people return to work. Most stores will stay closed over the 1. and the 2. day. providing people  with the opportunity of peace and enough time to spend with their families. 


North America is different. After only one day of closed stores commerce will re-start on boxing day with a new buyers frenzy. Most people are back at work on boxing day which I personally find very, very sad. Yet we are singing about "The 12 days of Christmas". 


Well, all WE did today was getting a few groceries and getting to a laundry, all of which we could have done before Christmas or postponed for another day. That's how modern society is changing our habits.
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Yesterday I had put on a video of the biggest Miniature Wonderland of the World. It is located in a huge old building at the harbour in Hamburg, Germany. Last year, while I was visiting family in Germany, I had the opportunity to see this masterpiece of small-scale engineering. I went with an old school buddy, and of course, we took the train down to Hamburg. After leaving the main trainstation downtown, we switched to the subway and ended up right across from the Wonderland.

Many visitors show up early in the morning and leave in the very last minute, only to come back next morning. The Miniature Wonderland cannot be explored in a couple of minutes. Therefore, it is virtually impossible to show you Wonderland in a 5 minute movie, but I can at least give your some impressions:



Even if this movie should take some time for the download, you should not miss watching it. It is simply AMAZING!


And here is a bit of the history:

THE IDEA
Frederik Braun and his then-girlfriend and today’s wife were visiting the alpine city of Zurich in July 2000. Sauntering together through the alleys of Zurich’s center, they came across a railway model shop, which at once evoked childhood memories in Frederik.

During the following hours, the idea of realizing the long forgotten childhood dream became more and more mature. On the very same day he called his twin brother Gerrit and surprised him with the following words: „We are going to build the largest model railway in the world“.

Gerrit, who is more rational and sceptical by nature, doubted Frederik’s state of mind and didn’t take the idea too seriously. However, after having received about six more calls from Frederik enthusiastically presenting new ideas about this topic, Gerrit realized that his brother was very serious about it. So, he started thinking about the project from an economical and technical point of view.

The result was that the project is technically demanding, the economic aspect is very risky and from an entrepreneurial view it is crazy – but, still possible. Gerrit had been infected by this idea as well. The two brothers passed the coming days intensely planning their dream despite many doubts and misgivings from their environment.

Only a few days after Zurich’s enlightenment both of them were sure that they would engage in this adventure.
How was the decision reached?
Before this dream became reality, one thing had to be ensured: the adventure must not totally destroy their existence as discotheque and music label owners which the Braun brothers had built up over years.

It had to be clarified, whether the dream was financially feasable at all, if enough visitors would come, whether the technical realisation was possible, and whether there was an appropriate place available in Hamburg where the world’s largest model railroad could be established.

In order to find out if it is possible to cover expenses with enough visitors, they decided to carry out a survey. More than 3,000 persons with different social demographic attributes were questioned via Internet, and were supposed to rate which of the 45 attractions listed, some of them fictitious, they would visit in Hamburg.

The invented Miniatur Wunderland concept came in third place considering men’s voting, but was rated on the very last place considering women. Despite this ambiguous result the twin brothers had made up there mind: “WE ARE GOING TO BUILD THE LARGEST MODEL RAILROAD IN THE WORLD.“


How was the Wunderland financed?
It didn’t take long to realise that a model railroad of that size and the planned attention to detail will be very expensive and can only be financed by loans. The Braun brothers took an A4 sized paper with a draft of their idea and went to their bank asking for a credit of 2 million D-Mark.

Both of them were sure that bankers would be laughing at them – 2 million D-Mark, an A4 sized paper and a dream of a model railraod… That doesn’t necessarily sound plausible to a banker – they thought. The more they were surprised when the bank soon granted the loan.

With hindsight, the calculation turned out to be completely wrong as out of 2 Mio. D-Mark became more than 7.3 Mio. Euros to this day. Fortunately they misjudged the number of visitors as well – in June 2007 the 4 millionth visitor was expected. And so the bank granted two more increases.

At this point it has to be mentioned that the Miniatur Wunderland, unlike most other exhibitions of this size, goes without any kind of government aid. The construction phase after the resolution was made to build the largest model railroad of the world, the two brothers drove around Germany and looked at different model layouts.

Hundreds of ideas were explored to create a model train experience that would be entertaining for the whole family. Enclosing a facility behind a window pane wouldn’t be part of the plan, but instead the idea was to create a giant, immersive experience.

“Our idea was to build a world that men, woman, and children can be equally astonished and amazed in”, says the co-creator Gerrit Braun of the philosophy.

With this philosophy and thousands of ideas they drove to Gerhad Dauscher in the city of M├╝hlhausen (near Neumarkt). Gerhard was infected immediately with the concept and dropped all his contracts and appointments. This day played a large role in the Miniatur Wunderland being what it is today.

Prior to construction, a team had to be assembled. For this, the three held a model construction casting, with over 150 persons applying and 40 being short-listed to attend. Based on the casting, Gerhard assembled a team of model creators, of which up to 95% were not classical model-makers, but instead excellent craftsmen.

In this way, the construction of the Miniatur Wunderland that exists today began. The original layout was 1000 square meters, with many more today and planned up until 2014. In the Weekly Reports you will find documentation about the construction progress and other timely information.


I can't wait to see this giant model railroad again. Especially the new "Knuffingen" Airport stirrs my curiosity.

Traveling is fun and makes you rich. 

Get rich!

And thanks for stopping by.


I almost forgot to welcome John and Ellen who climbed aboard the blogging train. Take a seat and see where we are headed. 

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