Monday 23 September 2019

Leonard Cohen's house in Hydra

The street is so narrow I could only photograph parts of the house. It's a three storey,  whitewashed, with grey door and windows

and with a huge terrace at the back,  bougainvillea spreading over the top of it.

Cohen bought the house in 1960, six days after his 26th birthday, for $1500, using a bequest from his recently deceased grandmother. Cohen later said that it was the smartest decision he ever made. The house was run down and had no electricity, plumbing or running water.

Cohen described his home to his mother:

'It has a huge terrace with a view of dramatic mountain and shining white houses. The rooms are large and cool with deep windows set in thick walls. I suppose it's about 200 years old and many generations of sea-men must have lived here. I will do a little work on it every year and in a few years it will be a mansion... I live on a hill and life has been going on here exactly the same for hundreds of years. All through the day you hear the calls of the street vendors and they are really rather musical... I get up around 7 generally and work till about noon. Early morning is coolest and therefore best, but I love the heat anyhow, especially when the Aegean Sea is 10 minutes from my door'.

He knew he had been accepted by the community when he began receiving regular visits from the garbage man and his donkey. (Today garbage is collected by a truck, the only motorised vehicle on the island). 'It's like receiving the Legion of Honour'. Cohen found peace here, and confidence. 'The years are flying past and we all waste so much time wondering if we dare to do this or that. The thing is to leap, to try, to take a chance'.

Bird on the Wire, began in Greece. When Cohen first arrived in Hydra, there were no wires on the island, no telephones and no regular electricity. But soon, telephone poles appeared, and then the wires. Then he noticed that the birds came on the wires.

And it was here, that he met Marianne, who he spent the next 10 years with.

Finally, the house is situated, where else? in Leonard Cohen Street.

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