Linda and Dick Straub, New Jersey, USA

Before we went to Hydra, we wrote for the Hydra 2002 Program Book, “Now we anxiously look forward to the 2002 Leonard Cohen Hydra Experience and the opportunity it will provide to visit with familiar Cohen friends, meet new Cohen fans, and obtain new perspectives on Leonard Cohen’s work.”

We enjoyed an absolutely fantastic week-plus experience on the lovely island of Hydra. Henning had organized a great pre-Hydra dinner in Athens where we got a head start in reacquainting ourselves with Montreal friends and meeting new Cohenists.

We then spent seven days in a beautiful 200-year old house with Jarkko and Eija and Adi and Lais.

The three Experience days we stayed in the picturesque Mistrial hotel with ten or so other participants. The three days included open mics, videos, beach bbq’s, sunset dinners, island walking tours, swimming (Kamini and Vlichos), and hours in the harbor tabernas with familiar faces of the 200 Cohen fans from 28 countries. We shared food and drink and music and always-good times. We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and chat with Lorca Cohen. On the final night the formal portion ended around 1am, and many of us headed to our favorite spot for beer or ouzos. (Nicholas’ place) Martha Wainwright, and other professional musicians (Henk and Jan Erik), and many talented fans that had performed during the open mic sessions joined us. (Henning, Tony, and Richard were especially good!). About 3:00 am, after chatting, the musicians began performing one by one, then after 4:00 it became a group sing, with hugs and toasts and a wondrous feeling of unity. We all meandered back to our rooms after a 6:00 am sunrise.

We also wrote before the event, “Thank you, Mr. Cohen, for enriching our lives.” That sentiment is increased a thousand-fold now. Sincere thanks are also in order to Jarkko and Eija for their fantastic organization, and to their able committee – Bobbie, Demetris and Henning, for their efforts.
We met many wonderful people, and had a marvelous and memorable time. Our only regret is not getting to know each and every participant better. I want to list so many names, but old and new friends know who you are, and ones we didn’t meet -- there is still next time! But, Hydra will be impossible to repeat. In total, June 2002, which also included Trafalgar “Best of Greece” and “Seven Day Aegean Cruise” for us, has topped any other single month in our lives. It was just incredible.

Thanks, and hugs to all!

Dick and Linda Straub

Photos ©: (1) Stig Allevik,
(2) Jarkko Arjatsalo, (3) Dick Straub