The semi-official legend of Cohen’s move to Greece, as related by biographer Ira B. Nadel, follows:
In March 1960, when he had completed his manuscripts, Cohen was free to consider his position in London, and he found it wanting. After having a wisdom tooth pulled one day, he wandered about the East End of London on yet another rainy afternoon and noticed a Bank of Greece sign on Bank Street. He entered and saw a teller with a deep tan wearing sunglasses, in protest against the dreary landscape. He asked the clerk what the weather was like in Greece. “Springtime” was the reply. Cohen made up his mind on the spot to depart, and within a day or so he was in Athens. “I said to myself that I should go somewhere completely different in order to see how they live,“ he later explained.
Arriving in Athens on 13 April 1960, Cohen then made the five hour trip to Hydra via ship where he found an island where electricity was just being introduced,1 where plumbing was primitive, and where transportation was dependent on walking or using animals.