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Postcard from…Karen LeFrak

Monday, April 1, 2013
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Karen LeFrak is a walking, talking renaissance woman. She is a children’s book author, a musician, a composer, a philanthropist and a dog enthusiast. After premiering her new children’s ballet, Bark! in the Park in February, she is only gaining momentum. She will be co-chairing the 6th Annual Spring Ball for the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center on April 22 at The Temple of Dendur at the Met. And as if this weren’t all enough, Karen and Richard LeFrak will be welcoming their second grandchild this month, as well. 

 

Favorite places 

After an exciting trip to St. Petersburg, this is now my favorite place in the world. At the Mariinsky Concert Hall I saw the ballet Gentle Memories, for which I composed the music.

 

Elegant accommodations

The Grand Hotel Europe offered old world elegance and charm. All the unique historic suites are located on the first floor of the hotel, and while they don’t offer terraces, they feature beautiful high ceilings. The Pavarotti Suite and the Dostoevsky Suite have the best views of Arts Square and the Russian Museum.

 

Dancer friends

We look forward to visiting the brilliant Maestro Valery
Gergiev; the head of the Mariinsky Ballet, Yuri Fateev and some of his wonderful dancers including Yekaterina Kondaurova and Islom Baimuradov. As there is no direct flight to St. Petersburg from New York, I always stop in Moscow for a short excursion before taking a short flight to St. Petersburg the next day.

Face time with inspiration

The exploration of the city’s churches, museums, and palaces is extraordinary. Above all, Pavlovsk Palace was my favorite site because I had written a ballet about it and finally got to see it in person. My travels inspire; new experiences bring new ideas to every aspect of your life.

 

Exploratory Advice

I would recommend seeing the Stroganov Palace, the Church of our Savior on Spilled Blood, and Yusupov Palace (also known as the site of Rasputin’s murder.) Additionally, the Hermitage and Pavlovsk Palace are a must, along with a walking tour of the city center and Summer Garden. The River and Canals boat tour is also so picturesque and enjoyable.

 

Russian Fare

For breakfast try the Grand Hotel Europe, with Nevsky Prospect being great for Russian-style teas and delicious pastries. Mansarda is a great place for lunch. For dinner try Aragvi, a true Georgian restaurant, and try khachapuri—a cheesy bread fresh from the oven.

 

From Russia, with love 

The best relic I brought back from St. Petersburg was a wooden chicken puppet for my grandson.Φ

 

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by Kelly LaffeyPhotographed by Billy Farrall