One fish, two fish, pickled fish, fried fish.
Sundays, at five in the morning, the streets of Hamburg are lit by the rising sun and the Fish Market commences. We (myself and a group of four) battled our desperate desire to sleep and made our way past the singing and swerving Saturday night party goers on their way home. Broken beer bottles littered on the streets, the aftermath of wildly explicit parties of the infamous Reeperbahn. We headed toward the Hamburg Fischmarkt, leaving behind an emptying Reeperbahn.
Along the harbor, fruit vendors skillfully sliced open pineapples and melons while merchants neatly arranged their B-boy hats and Deutschland flags. Bbins of caramel, chocolate and gummies beckoned customers to stop and buy a gram or two. Fish vendors display copious quantities of fresh fish while nearby booths deep fried black-fish or sold pickled fish sandwiches for breakfast. All shouted their special deals and prices towards passing customers in hopes of selling an extra bin of fruit or gram of candy. Live music blasted from the old fish market building. Some tapped their feet to the music while others ecstatically danced in rare open space. Conversation and laughter, beer and fish sandwiches permeated the vintage structure.
Persistent store vendors, surplus visual and auditory stimuli can be quite overwhelming. The constant crowd can easily agitate the claustrophobic. Luckily, the best of both worlds can be found by maneuvering through the masses. I tightly held on to my fried fish sandwich dripping with tartar sauce, stepped behind the fish market and situated myself on the very edge of the harbor. Ignoring the busy clamor behind me, I let my feet dangle over the Elbe River and watched boats rock in place and the occasional ocean-liner traverse down the river.
The fish market, in and of itself, is quite a spectacle. Being able to immerse myself within a crowd and whimsically step away from the hustle and bustle, then enclose myself within my own thoughts along the harbor, is incredible. In today’s fast-paced society, we are constantly going; unfortunately, many of us forget to allocate time for ourselves to breathe and think. But if there is a way to both fully integrate within a crowd, find space and time for myself at a fish market, I am certain that it is possible anywhere. It is only a matter of remembering.
Article written by Lucy Ma.