Pasaia Maritime Festival San Sebastian

San Sebastian is so much more than pintxos and beaches. Today we discovered the sea-faring side, just a dozen miles outside of town, at the Pasaia Maritime Festival. This event happens every two years and showcases heritage boats and ships to celebrate a seafaring culture here that can be traced back to the Romans.

Our day started with cafe con leche on a plaza here across from a park with ruby Japanese maples and gliding swans. Then we boarded a bus for a 15-minute ride to Pasaia San Pedro. A harbor walk brought us to the crowded heart of the festival where boats of all sizes plied the waters. San Pedro was a historically strategic port in Spain’s Basque country. It served as a hub for shipbuilding, fishing, whaling, and naval operations. For us, it looked the part. The ancient buildings lining the port looked like they belonged to another time.

The three-day festival included a parade of boats, lots of musical concerts, folk dancing, craft booths, and, of course, Basque-style food and drink. We were mesmerized by the impressive replicas of ancient sailing ships at the festival, as they sailed gracefully across the bay. And that’s not surprising, considering our love of the sea and appreciation of ancient mariners. Plus, our hometown of San Diego boasts similar maritime traditions.

It was stimulating and fun in the sun. Too much sun for me. I hadn’t needed a hat or sunscreen since we arrived. But today’s sun was intense, disguised by the sea breeze, and I have a very red nose to prove it. Despite that, we had a fabulous time and another reason to call this city one of our favorites.