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Travel light and travel smart. Two things my parents valued while growing up. We didn’t have much luxury during my childhood, but a trip to the beach was always possible. My mother, the wise and caring woman she is, would group the whole family of six together and plan memorable trips to the coast. St James, a small suburb near Kalk Bay was always a favourite of mine and here’s why:

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Some of my fondest childhood memories were made here. I remember my mother firmly gripping my tiny hands as we walked from the train station to the beach. It was an arduous walk, with all the beach items and food she just had to bring along but it was the best time of my life.

As I grew with these memories, etched in my brain, it would always bring a smile to my face. I often drive along the coast to St James to break away from the bustling life of the city. My most recent visit however, gave me all the more reason to once again fall in love with the place.

I meticulously planned it. A close friend and I drove to St James one Friday evening after work. My friend had a rather stressful week. As always. So the only logical solution was to break away from it all. I reviewed local restaurants and guest houses, which gave me a very different side of St James that I never knew existed. And so, we packed lightly with just the essentials and off we went.

If you’re coming from Cape Town, the drive will take you just over an hour. Trust me, the scenery alone will make the drive worth your while. Take the Main Road (M4) that traces along the shoreline of the False Bay Coastline. Along the journey you’ll get to appreciate views of popular beaches, Muizenberg and St James.

After the long day, we finally checked into the St James Homestead. Before I go any further, allow me this moment to just take in the architecture of this guest house. The St James Homestead is a true Cape Dutch building that withstood the test of time. Poetic justice. Even if I do say so myself.

This guest house left me in awe by how they combine elegance with the relaxed atmosphere along the seaside. The best way to experience the heartbeat of a small suburb is to stay at a place that guarantees a home-away-from-home accommodation. The best thing about visiting St James has to be meeting locals. Friendly, hospitable and happy is what I’ll use to describe the type of people who choose life by the sea over the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle.

We decided to go out for supper at a highly recommended restaurant, The Harbour House Restaurant in Kalk Bay. This place reserved high recognition online for their cocktails while enjoying the view of the ocean. You have to try the oysters, they are as fresh as they come. For my main meal I tried the lip-smacking grilled calamari drizzled with garlic and butter sauce, it’s one for the books!

While we hesitantly ended our evening earlier than we had expected, we both were already exhausted at this point. We headed back to the guest house to our shared Auret suite. Each suite carries interesting historical significance dating back to the 1800’s. Be sure to ask about your room.

While this time around, my trip to St James was somewhat different to what I enjoyed during my childhood. The fact is, for the entire weekend, we drank the best wine, were treated with generous hospitality and simply forgot about the troubles left behind in the city. Even though these troubles were a mere one hour drive away.

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If this weekend proves anything, it’s that it doesn’t take much to enjoy the finer things. Next time I plan on visiting the town of Franschoek. Another small town just a few kilometres away from central Cape Town. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it.

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