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The Other Greek Isles

KÍTHIRA
With a population of 3,100, Káthira is the kind of place where, when I forgot my bag at a taverna, the waiter let me know by calling the cell phone of the cabbie he saw pick me up. Traditionally difficult to get to, since it lies far from the rest of the Eptanissia, south of the Peloponnesus, the island is now served by flights, ferries, and hydrofoils. Yet somehow it remains almost entirely undiscovered—most foreign visitors are descendants of islanders who emigrated to "big Kíthira," Australia.

I was practically the only one around as I wandered through the whitewashed, bougainvillea-covered capital of Hora and climbed the Venetian fortress to see Kapsali's long beach through a hole in the wall. At the ruined Byzantine city of Kato Hora, I had the sunset all to myself. For true recluses, I learned, the satellite island of Antik’thira, population 70, has 10 rooms to let—but that sounded a bit too lonely for me.

With Hora closed for siesta, I sat down to write postcards in the square. A Greek traveler passed by and asked, "Miss, where is everybody?" Despite—or, rather, because of—K’thira's solitude, Greeks who want peace and quiet along with their sunbathing are starting to visit the island. It may even be developing its own version of a scene. In Hora, I heard a handsome young man snarl into a pay phone, "Why aren't you here?You're not going to Mykonos or some jerk-off place like that, are you?"

Eleni N. Gage, a contributing editor for InStyle, is currently living in northern Greece and writing a travel memoir, to be published by the Free Press.

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