Hamburg, Germany: Miniatur Wunderland – train spotting

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Model trains? What have they to do with fitness and wellness? Quite a lot. Even if you know nothing about model trains, you will be in high spirits at the Miniatur Wunderland: Germany’s most popular attraction ahead of Neuschwanstein castle!

I have been in Hamburg countless times, but until this year I had never heard about MiWuLa. On a recent trip to Hamburg, though, my husband and I went to Kehrwieder 2, Block D, in the port area.

Times and prices

It was a late afternoon out of season, but the place was busy: Visitors came and went. At the reception we were upon arrival immediately asked if we had booked. “No”. So we had to go in and reserve a slot for our visit; 1½ hour later, in the meantime we went for a walk.

Although it is the world’s largest model train layout, it is situated in a quite limited area, 6,800 sqm. over two floors, so there is no free access, you have to reserve an entry time. Visitors enter in slots every half hour. Tip: Book in advance via the website.

MiWuLa is open 365 days a year (check times). From pm. 9:30 or 8:00 pm to 18:00 or 21:00. Entry fee is 14 Euro. Cheap for such a special attraction.
You can see the sight in about 1½ hour, if you walk briskly through it. But I would recommend, that you devote 2-4 hours so you have time to see all the details and ‘push all the buttons’.

A model world for kids and adults

When I was little, I was sometimes with my parents or grandmother at Aarhus Central Station and saw the model railway in the waiting room, and I’ve always liked to go by train. On the other hand, I have never played with model trains and know no enthusiasts.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to visit an attraction with the title “world’s largest” of something, but had no particular expectations (of course, then you won’t be disappointed).

You enter by going through the souvenir shop, ‘packed’ and popular. From here you walk into some old, rather ordinary white-painted warehouse-like facilities with harsh neon lights in the ceiling. But then the bleakness stops.

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Whether you are interested in model trains or not, you have to be impressed by the enormous work that lies behind the design and building of the beautiful model-landscapes, mountains, forests, cities, roads and especially lots of railroad tracks, locomotives, trains, train stations and thousands of cars and trucks and even more miniature citizens, criminals, law enforcers etcetera.

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Push the buttons

Everywhere trains run.Trains continuously start or stop or run. And as a unique attraction – you should take time to try it:

In almost all areas there is a button. When the button is pushed, a certain activity starts: e.g. the elevator to a ski lift starts, a prison escape breaks out or the doors of the music hall Elphi open, so that one can see into the concert hall. Brilliantly conceived and built.

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The most active button pushers are probably the model train enthusiasts from all around the world. The sight is one of the best things of the place: Model train builders of all ages are mesmerized by the scenes and spend a long, long time in every area.

(Almost) every train and situation are photographed, filmed and discussed with an infectious enthusiasm. Your spirits are lifted by the special atmosphere.

The temperature all day and year is around 21 degrees. The day lasts 15 minutes in MiWuLA. Suddenly, the lights are dimmed and it’s night. A stunning detail. The landscapes glitters with the light from signal and traffic lights, houses, cars, trains and planes!

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The airport. With aircrafts landing and taking off (with a little help). Impressive!

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And what is that? A control room! Like a ‘real life’ traffic center. Four men are busy watching the screens and ensuring, that the trains run on time. Ordnung muss sein.

Miniatur Wunderland Facts

  • Opened in August 2001. The brothers Gerrit and Frederik Braun got the idea in 2000 in Zurich.
  • Guinness Book of Records 2016. Two sides. The world’s largest model railway.
  • 15.4 km funicular railway: half is visible, the rest in tunnels or railway stations.
  • 1,040 trains (locomotives)
  • 10,000+ waggons (waggons / freight)
  • Longest train: 14.51 meters
  • 1380 signal lights
  • 130,000 trees
  • 260.000 inhabitants
  • 385,000 lights / lamps
  • 9,250 cars (of which 280 are running)
  • Model Area: 1,490 sqm.
  • Highest peak: Matterhorn, 6 m
  • Largest sea: Nord Ostsee: 30,000 liters
  • Largest Area: Scandinavia: 300 sqm.
  • Most expensive area: Italy > 4 million. euro
  • 50 computers in the control area!
  • > 40 model makers and technicians keep MiWuLa going
  • 760,000 construction hours
  • 16 million Euro building costs
  • 15,273,549 visitors since opening (until end 2016):
  • Visitors come from all over the world. In 2016, 23.2% came from abroad. In first place comes Denmark with almost 45,662 visitors alone in 2016, closely followed by Switzerland, Austria, England, the US and China.

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Year and territories

2001 Kuffingen (airport), Austria and Mid-Germany
2002 Hamburg
2003 America (metropolitan and West)
2005 Scandinavia
2007 Switzerland
2008 Special Exhibition; the divided city
2011 Airport
2012 Special Exhibition; Our civilization’s history
2013 and HafenCity Elbphilharmonie
2016 Italy

Venice opens in spring 2018 and you can already see parts of it and Monaco.

Read / see more:

Miniatur Wunderland

Streetview Miniatur Wunderland

#miniaturwunderland

Largest Model Train of the World

Hamburg, Germany? Well worth a visit or two or three or …

By Marina Aagaard, MFT. Photo: Henrik Elstrup

Was?! Haven’t you been to Hamburg, yet???

Recently my husband and I asked a couple of friends if they had been to Hamburg, and they answered “no”. This was surprising as we reckoned all Danes had visited Hamburg, the second city of Germany with 5,1 million inhabitants (metropolitan area).
This metropolis is only about 3-4 hours away from most cities of Denmark. 

We are great fans of Hamburg (Henrik has worked there), so our friends got a massive dose of PR: One of the World’s most visited concert cities, a must-visit for music-/musicalfans, modern art enthusiasts, foodies and fitness freaks.
When we met the next time, our friends had already been there and agreed:
Hamburg is great! 

Hamburg tripping

Short trip or extended stay? Week 7 and 8 and november are great times for visiting Hamburg, because 1) there are no German holidays at these times, and 2) at most other times of the year the hotels in Hamburg are (almost) full!
Talk about a popular city.

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Hamburg Trip Insidertips

Elphi

Must-see: The new concert hall Elbphilharmonie, opened on 11.1.2017. Price cirka 789 mio. EUR). A former warehouse, now mounted with a gigantic wavy glass top, luxury hotel and Europe’s longest escalator. Spectacular both from the outside and the inside.

Unfortunately most events are sold out, so you should not reckon with going to a concert in the near future.
Fortunately you can visit for free; everybody can visit the The Plaza, the public viewing platform, from where you have a super 360 degree view of the city and the harbour.

Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg

Worlds largest model railway with fantastic miniature displays of famous cities and landscapes (Miniatur Wunderland photo: Rome by night).
Exciting for kids and adults alike.
Miniatur Wunderland is situated in an ‘attraction’ of its own: historic Speicherstadt, which along with the Kontorhausviertel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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HafenCity

The area, located on the Elbe river island Grasbrook, the former Port of Hamburg, holds a mix of residential and office buildings, hotels, shops, restaurants and coffee shops. The buildings represent old and new architecture interspersed with water and green spots.
A walk is free and full of interesting sights and experiences.

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St. Pauli

St. Pauli has a long tradition as a recreation and amusement centre and is known for its famous red-light district, the Reeperbahn (the sinful mile).
In the area there are also lots of bars and music clubs amoung others the Star-Club, where Beatles’ career took of (learn more on a Beatles tour).

Photo shows a cool attraction: The Elbphilharmonie Pavillon with 20 horns, not with Beatles hits, but diverse orchestral music.

Hamburg horn

Canal tours

Canal tour? Yes, Hamburg is full of rivers, streams and canals, which are crossed by around 2.500 bridges, more than all of the bridges in Venice, Amsterdam and London together! This creates an amazing city environment, also seen from the water on barge tours by day or lights cruises by night.

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I am looking forward to going to Hamburg. Again. Soon.

Read more:

www.hamburg.de

Wikipedia/Hamburg

Everyday excellent exercise: Stair walking – for fitness, fat loss and fun

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Take the stairs. It is excellent exercise. It is fun; it is an experience, you see the World (buildings) from different angles. Your legs and heart get stronger and stair walking burns lots of calories. Use the stairs in the everyday and when travelling.

A 80 kg (~160 lb) person burns approx. 9 kcal (calories) during 1 minute of stair walking.

A 80 kg (~160 lb) person burns approx. 1 kcal in 1 minute waiting for/using elevator.

Walking down stairs burns approx. 175-275 kcal per hour; 3-4,5 kcal per minute.

Walking up stairs burns approx. 530-835 kcal per hour; 8-14 kcal per minute.

Walking up and down stairs burns approx. 355-555 kcal per hour; 6-9 kcal per minute.

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Unfortunately the stairs are not always visible. You may have to look for them. True story:

Portier 1: Can I help you?
Marina: Yes, I would like to use the stairs instead of the elevator.
Portier 1: Not a good idea. They are not easily accessible and rather narrow, not safe.
Marina: (Facial expression: ?????????????????) But, I prefer taking the stairs.
Portier 1: (Facial expression: ?????). Well, then I will have someone taking you up.
Portier 2: (Leading the way. Points to stairs. Walks away).
Marina: (Walk the stairs. Breathe loudly. Count. 4:40) ... 537, 538, 539, 540!

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Happy health. Fun Fitness: Peak Performance.

Fitness wellness trip: Hamburg, Germany.

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

A holiday speeds up mental and physical recovery, så recently after a hectic september ‘fitness season’ start in the beginning of october I went on a weekend mini-Holiday in Hamburg once again.
No workouts for two days, but plenty of walking exercise and sight-seeing.

An interesting city and recommended for a Holiday break.

Hamburg, the second city of Germany with 1,8 mio. inhabitants, is one of the most  popular tourist destinations of Northern Europa – and actually more exciting, than it may sound. Hamburg has phenomenal shopping opportunities (for those addicted), many green (free) spaces, and a large, interesting and diverse harbour area under development.
Hamburg has the second-largest port in Europe and apart from that so many canals and bridges, that the Germans call the city for Venice of the North (a term used about a couple of cities in northern Europe, that contain many canals, comparing them to Venice, Italy).

There are plenty of reasons for going to Hamburg (especially if you live in Denmark, which is next to Germany and Hamburg is only a one hour drive from the border): To see art, city development, canals, lakes and boats or cars. It is not everywhere, where you in an everyday parking lot, apart from loads of Porsches, Mercedeses and Audis, see an incredibly beautiful McLaren sports car at 1 mio. US dollars plus.

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Hamburg Byggeri Havn nyt operahus
Construction site: Hamburgs new Elbphilharmonie, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg (or Elphi), concert hall by the Water front. And harbour images:

Hamburg Bygning skrå Hamburg hummer stretch     Hamburg Skrue 414X2737      Hamburg hotel mural

 Hamburg Havn bro 414X2801Hamburg broHamburg biler ved havnHamburg havneområde 414X2865    Hamburg Ober hafen bro 414X2770Hamburg Havn Ober hafen Kan tine Marina Aagaard fitness blogOber hafen Kan tine – a popular ‘skewed’ cafe almost under the bridge.

 Hamburg havn MA leger 414X2980 Hamburg havn sandkasser og spil 414X2977Hamburg havn blomsterkasser 414X2978
In the newer part of the harbour: Modern playground and decor;
tiles with sound and bouncing poles – fun for children (and adults).
Hamburg Havnefront Bygninger Twist 414X3001 Hamburg Havneområde 414X2774Hamburg Indre havn kran 414X2858Hamburg mast Hamburg indre havn og skibe 414X2891Hamburg romantik på kaj    Hamburg Orkester Bygning med lyd Elbphilharmonie Pavillion in the middle of Hamburg HafenCity. The small Building contains a 1:10 model of the Grand Hall in the Elbphilharmonie concert hall.
On the building there are 20 ‘horns’. When you get close, you can put your ear to them and listen to samples of music. Brilliant idea.Hamburg hornHamburg havn aftensol rejse Marina Aagaard fitness blogHamburg aften bygninger
Hamburg Thai drink Hamburg Thai mad

Evening sun, city lights and Thai dinner in the Port of Hamburg area.
Wonderful. I look forward to going back to Hamburg igen.