My editor called. “Research and compose a perfect, relaxing day in Boston,” she said. I’m not that good at relaxing. It’s not that I am a stress-ball or severely Type A or anything like that. It’s just that, like most people I know, I have a lot more things to do on any given day than I can possibly complete and relaxing seems like a self-indulgence that just doesn’t ever bubble up to the top of my to-do list. Relax for a whole day? Well, in the name of research, I’ll try.
Spring in Boston has always reminded me of the moment in The Wizard of Oz when everything suddenly changes from black and white to dazzling color. With that in mind, let’s begin outside with a stroll through DeLuca’s Market for some of the finest fresh fruit, bread, and coffee. Then cart your breakfast picnic to the Public Garden across the street. This is Mother Nature’s spa, where birds chirp, squirrels chatter, ducklings splash, and clouds of tulips and magnolia trees provide the aromatherapy and eye candy that can’t be duplicated indoors, no matter how comfy the robe.
Speaking of robes, Boston has no shortage of places where you can get pampered and rubbed to your heart’s content, but I’m not really sure I’d consider many of them relaxing. There’s just too much stress involved in the “trying to be seen” scene. Sort of like trying to work out in one of those gyms where everyone is wearing full makeup and the coolest, trendiest, never actually sweat in them yoga pants.
There is, however, an alternative. Etant in the South End delivers a truly relaxing, down-to-earth experience. With an impressive menu of treatments, from reflexology to acupuncture, this place is the real deal when it comes to relaxing. The décor is unassumingly enveloping and the staff is friendly, talented, and incomparably educated in an astonishing array of homeopathic studies, from ancient to cutting edge.
Owner Scott St. Cyr gives an energetic alignment massage that uses acupressure techniques to balance the molecular energy flow by relieving “clots” of stopped energy that become magnets for tension and stress. His demeanor is at once cosmic and scientific, leaving you wondering whether the treatment is spiritual or medicinal. Most likely, it is both. Also try the ear candling procedure – an ancient Native American-inspired ritual in which volumes of toxins are coaxed out of your ears through a chimney of warm wax. Sounds a little creepy at first but trust me; it’s delightful.
Etant also offers a pumpkin peel facial, which is a really effective natural alternative to chemical peels. Watch out, though – the aroma is so pervasive that you just might forget it is spring and rush home with a hankering for turkey and cranberry sauce!
Once you’re dressed again, continue your relaxing day by walking about a tenth of a mile to Good Life for lunch. The ambiance is cozy and chef Michael Scelfo is a genius at marrying your favorite comfort food with irreproducible flavor. The smoky carnitas quesadilla is superb and the prociutto renders the field greens salad extraordinary.
At this point, your physical senses should be pretty much sated, so let’s move on to more intellectual pursuits. Head back over to Copley Square to wander through Boston’s Central Library – the first public library in our country’s history. Take a deep breath and inhale the ghosts of the Revolution. You can meander through the labyrinth-like structure of the two buildings, admiring the architecture or just trying to find your way back to the main entrance, or you can find some reading material and head for the Sculpture Courtyard – possibly the most underappreciated gem of relaxation in Boston.
As evening closes in, slip over to Bar Lola Tapas Lounge. Meditate over a little taste of everything and savor the warmth of cool sangria and Flamenco music as you unwind from your hectic day of relaxation.
What & Where:
Deluca’s Market (11 Charles Street; 617-523-4343)
Etant (524 Tremont St; 617-423-5040)
Good Life (28 Kingston St; 617-451-2622)
Boston’s Central Library (700 Boylston St; 617-536-5400)
Bar Lola Tapas Lounge (160 Commonwealth Ave; 617.266.1122)