By Bruce Wolfoel

Hamburg is a port city and to enjoy it to the fullest we recommend a visit to one of its most famous districts, St. Pauli, near the infamous Reeperbahn. At night, strippers and prostitutes, intent on fleecing customers, frequent the streets and numerous clubs. But a better time for most people to visit is in the early morning when it is unlikely that one will encounter any vices other than possibly gluttony.

The time to go is on a Saturday, between 6 and 9 a.m., and the place is St. Pauli Landesbrücken, a 10-15 minute walk from the elevated S-Bahn stop of that name. This extraordinary combination of flea market, fish market and farmers market takes place every Saturday and should not be missed.

Our visit was on a freezing, foggy morning after a 6 a.m. breakfast. Across the Elbe we could see the huge bulk of the British ocean liner QEII in dry dock, looking like an impossibly enormous beached whale. More than a mile of concessions booths and tents stretched along the waterfront.

Steam rose from crowds of strollers and shoppers. There were all sizes and shapes of clothing, hats, boots, shoes, electronics, and endless varieties of meat, fish, vegetables and fruit. Tents sheltered raucous auctioneers who hawked fruit and frequently tossed examples of their wares to participants; a banana here, an apple there.

The cold awakened our appetites and as we strolled we stopped at several vendor's stands to sample various kinds of sausages. Offering many inexpensive and mouth-watering varieties of hot meat and fish, it is a sensational place for those with early morning appetites.

Of interest near the market, is an incredible combination of elevator and tunnel completed in 1911. It allows one vehicle at a time to cross the Elbe. A stone tower houses endlessly descending flights of stairs and a truck-sized elevator that drops 60 meters to a tunnel which crosses under the river to another elevator on the opposite shore.

Not far from the fish market, a pier lined with shops sits above the river. We finished our St Pauli visit on this pier with lunch at Flötkenkieker restaurant.