On the surface, it really was a fish market, one where local vendors sold everything from fruit to fresh fillets. There were pretzels and Berliners, flowers and fish sandwiches, currywurst and beer. Yes, beer. When I walked into the main fish hall, the sun was shining through the large glass windows at the far end of the building, a dominate reminder to all that it was indeed daytime. But they might as well have pulled down a gigantic shade, because no one could have cared less about the time. Under that aforementioned window, a band blasted out pop cover songs, and a crowd of a few hundred people - bigger than what had been at the club - bounced around and sang along.
Instantly, I understood why my friends were so insistent on coming. We weren't ending the night - we were continuing it. Fish sandwiches for all to go with another round of beer, then straight to the dance floor for more fancy footwork. It was as if a beer hall, dance club, and grocery store were participating in a threesome, the drinks on the tables a mix of beer mugs and coffee cups.
It is in this image that the true value of this experience revealed itself to me, the odd yet lovable mix of people mingling at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Some were starting their day and others were ending it. Out of one eye you see an older couple perusing the vendors with their arms interlocked, and out of the other you see a drunk twenty-something walking around with a pineapple on his head. In one corner, it seems like a pre-Sunday service breakfast is taking place. In the other, fish sandwiches are inhaled by people who can barely seem to open their eyes.
The fish market takes place every Sunday, from 5 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. April through October and 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in winter. It's a must stop on your next visit to Hamburg, but whether you decide to start or end your day there is up to you!