The air in Kalk Bay is different. I don’t know how. Adjacent is Muizenberg, and the air there is somehow less refreshing. It may have something to do with the height, or the wind, or the trees, or the view but Kalk Bay has a quality to it that results in the air breathing new life onto you.
The key to visiting this sandwiched village – hemmed in by suburbs, sea, and mountains – is to approach it from above, on Boyes drive. Never, never try and make your way through the seaside road. That road has been under construction since 2011, and like an African dictator, I wouldn’t be surprised if it stubbornly remains in disrepair for multiple generations. At some point on Boyes drive (assuming you’re driving in from the city-side) you’ll notice the beginning of stairs descending to the town below. This is your secret entrance, though honestly, this is no secret at all; it is just plain obviously the best option for any logical soul.
It’s here that you are affronted by the generous sea air, and its welcoming calming nature. All the pressures of life, the memories of impatient and selfish fools that passed you in the traffic, and the sweltering heat of Cape Town in summer all quickly subside. And you’re happy again. You should be happy you’re alive, but this is a relative statement. Now you need to put your imagination hat on (if, unlike me, you lost it someplace as a kid) and pretend like you’re in a foreign village. This is possibly the easiest part of Cape Town in which to do so. No other place is no other-worldly. The slope of the town, the cramming together of the homes, the peace in the people’s faces – it all seems like we’ve rewinded twenty years, or been transported to a small town in Mediterranean Europe.
A twenty-minute drive for me from home, this is one of my easiest escapes, overshadowed perhaps only by Newlands forest, again, a place you can escape modern life in under five minutes. The coffee is slightly better here though, with faster wifi, and the hipsters wear shoes. C’est la vie is a good option, Olympia café better, and Bootleggers (the new experts in frantic franchising) also a gem. But none of those beat buying something from anywhere, and then walking the seaside pavement, ending with a last gaze at the sea from the top of the stairs from which you began.
One last breath of that air and some thoughtful contemplation of an hour stolen from the madness of city life will give you another month’s lease on life in the mother city.