When tourists arrive in Santiago, they are somewhat surprised (and occasionally horrified) to discover that the city of full of the dulcet tones of the bagpipe (gaita). At the Santiago Parador, we heard one American ask why a bagpipe was being played in the square, and had to be informed it was the National Instrument. I read a review of that Parador by another tourist who couldn’t understand why the hotel didn’t stop that person from making THAT NOISE in front of the hotel. 

The bagpipe is not confined to the Celts – and in any case Galicia considers itself part Celtic. It is very wet, very green, and very Catholic.


Galicia gets the full benefit of the winds that blow across the Atlantic and dump their rains on the province. As it is on the ocean, the province’s cuisine is based on seafood: the coquille St. Jacques, naturally, but also upon the octopus (pulpo). 

Restaurants have display windows featuring complete octupuses (octopi?) in all their glory. The regional specialty is pulpo al gallego.  

Therefore, what could be more natural than the fusion of octopus and bagpipe. Somehow the instrument and the cephalopod seem to have been made for each other.

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