my love affair with a man named lorca: why i chose to study in granada

Verde que te quiero verde…

One line and I was hooked.

I first read Romancero Gitano in high school, falling madly in love with Federico García Lorca at age 17.

So in love that I spent a semester researching the symbolism of nature in his poetry, exhaustively scouring the library for works that could help me expose the metaphor of Lorca’s moon, wind, and the color green. The granaíno took the nature that surrounded him in southern Spain and made it speak.


You could say I came to Granada chasing Lorca’s luna. I romanticized the city; loving the the olive groves, the mountain winds and the gypsies from afar.

I wasn’t disappointed. There was not an evening in Granada that I didn’t find myself in a dream-like state. It is at night when the city grabs your heart. From dusk til dawn, the city is alive.


On a 6 am bus ride from Granada to Sevilla, surrounded by sleeping friends,I found my nose pressed to the glass window. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the full moon hanging low over the rolling olive groves.  The fog rose to meet the hovering ball of light. The luna granaína spoke to me, just as she speaks in Lorca’s Romance de la luna, luna. There was something magical about it, something that can’t be put into words. Something that simply washes over you.

source: thecareyadventures

source: thecareyadventures

After that morning, I found myself constantly staring at the night sky. Upon leaving one of our favorite discos in the caves of Sacromonte shortly before dawn most weekends, I’d sit on the city walls and just watch the moon lower itself over the Alhambra, slowly disappearing behind the breathtaking fortress. I couldn’t tear my gaze away.


Then, there were the gypsies. Hearing the toque gitano, the soft olé‘s that seemed to rise up from the soul, and observing the strong presence of tradition in barrio Sacromonte at sunset gave me chills.


I came chasing Lorca’s inspiration, and Granada guided me to it without me having to look. It’s a magical city. A sensual one that makes you feel deeply. A city that speaks to the heart in both culture and nature, and promises to enchant you each and every day.





I leave you with some words I wrote for the magazine Por Granada at the end of my time living there:

Quien pasea por las calles del Albaicín o las cuevas del Sacromonte puede imaginar la historia de los árabes y gitanos que una vez poblaron estos barrios granadinos.  Esta imagen necesita como complemento indispensable una banda sonora de guitarras y quejíos flamencos.  La música de la historia de Granada parece sonar a través de sus calles.

Los últimos meses han sido unos de los mejores de mi vida, llenos de diversión, risa y aventura. La historia, la poesía y la música del pasado aún viven en las calles de Granada. Cada vez que salgo de tapas o a las discotecas, la vista de la luna de que habló Lorca y la belleza de la Alhambra me deja sin palabras. Para mi, Granada es un sueño.”


street artists capturing the essence of Granada

“Whoever walks the streets of the Albaicín or explores the caves of Sacromonte can feel the presence of the Arabs and gypsies that once populated these neighborhoods. This image is complemented by a soundtrack of guitars and the sounds of flamenco. The music of Granada’s past seems to play throughout its streets. The past months here have been some of the best of my life, full of fun, laughter and adventure. The history, poetry and music of the Granada of the past still live in its streets. Each time I go out for tapas or to a club, the view of the moon that Lorca spoke of combined with the beauty of the Alhambra leaves me without words. For me, Granada is a dream.”

source: flickr

source: flickr

20 Comments on “my love affair with a man named lorca: why i chose to study in granada

  1. Hey J, found your blog through Young Adventuress. When I was looking to study abroad in Spain back in 2005, Granada was the only, ONLY place on my list. I had long fantasized about the gypsies, the reflection of the moonlight on the Alhambra. I was reading The Death of Lorca to study up when my study abroad office called to tell me the credits could not be transferred. My heart sunk, and I reluctantly studied in Valladolid.

    When I came back two years later as an auxiliar, I waxed poetic over wanting to teach in Granada, and was placed in Sevilla. Almost a relief, because I know all of the bad things about living in Seville, but not in Granada. IT’s still pristine, mysterious.

    • Isn’t he enchanting? I could just read him all day and still be fascinated!
      Oh my goodness, I would have been crushed! Full disclosure: I partially chose my university because of its study abroad campus in Granada! But I know what you mean about the relief of maintaining its mystery. Part of the reason I chose to move to Madrid instead of back to Granada was my fear that it would lose its charm if I moved there for real. But, I still secretly dream of one day moving into one of the {renovated} old gypsy cuevas, living off Rioja and local olive oil and writing a book about Lorca 🙂
      Thanks for commenting, I’ve loved your blog for a while now!
      x Julia

    • Thank you, Emma. I could go on for days about this place. My love for it just pours out of me whenever the topic comes up haha.

      Your comments are going to my spam for some reason, sorry about that! Thank you for such a nice comment, I’m happy to know someone understands the love as well 🙂 xx

  2. What a wonderful story about choosing Granada. It makes my moves abroad seem super lame – found a place to live and Wikipedia told me there was a large student population. Whoops.

    • Ha! Believe me… all my friends were secretly annoyed when I’d make them stop and look at the moon and go on and onnn about it. I’m a sucker for pretty words, spanish guitar and cobblestone streets, so it was my utopia in a way! But of course, the thousands of students, crazy nightlife an free tapas were a big bonus 🙂 xx

  3. Your passion for Granada is so evident! I know the feeling–I feel the same way about Greece, that’s where I studied abroad and first really fell in love with travel.

    • I remember that moment so clearly…being so happy with where I was, always in a state of wonder, and realizing I never wanted to lose that feeling. The bug bit me and I knew I had to see ALL the places haha. Greece is at the top of my list. I dream of renting a little white house in Santorini and just getting lost for a few weeks 🙂

  4. I’m headed to Granada for the first time next week! (I’ve been living in Spain seven months but I haven’t been…I may not be a very efficient traveler…). This blog post makes me so excited!

    • Haha, well, better late then never! I’m so excited for you!! You’ll love it, I’m sure of it 🙂

      If you need any recommendations or anything, please let me know! x

  5. Just came back to NYC after living in Granada this past fall semester, words can’t express how much I miss it there! Loved this blog, made me remember all my amazing nights there ❤

    • NYC life has me longing for the days of siesta and “no pasa nada.” Such a tough transition, I still feel it strongly nearly a year later. All there is to do is find the best tapas spots downtown and drown the pain in tortilla and tempranillo! x

    • Thank you! Haha, then my job is done! You absolutely should go if you get a chance. Never a dull moment in España 🙂

  6. Love the post about Granada. I studied there for a semester back in 2010. I’ve applied to teach in Spain for next year and would love to go back to Granada, but I’ve also accepted that I probably won’t get placed there. If that ends up being the case, it does make me excited because ill be able to see it as a visitor. I can tell by your colorful, passionate writing how much you loved Granada and how much the city means to you. Love you blog!

    • Thanks so much! It’s an addicting place, isn’t it?
      I know what you mean…part of me is excited to see Granada as a visitor when I’m back in Spain because it will be even more special and I’ll focus all of my energy on the amazing things to do and see, but getting to live there again would be fantastic as well. Good luck with your placement!

  7. Pingback: an insider’s guide to getting lost in granada {el albaicín} | nowhere to go but everywhere

  8. I just read your post because of your admiration for Lorca. I recently read a small book about the “Sonetos del amor obscuro”, as Ian Gibson call’em. I feel he was a charming person I believe, I would like very much to have met him in person. I found your blog through “Young Adventures”, the post about falling in love abroad. Best of luck to you, que seas feliz y puedas siempre viajar así. Para mí quereria el mismo.

    • Lo tendré que leer! Su “Sonetos del amor obscuro” siempre me ha encantado. A mi también me hubiera gustado conocer a Lorca cuando estaba vivo, me parece una persona fascinante. Me alegro de que hayas encontrado mi blog y te deseo todo lo bueno xx

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