Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Interiors: Travel Agent Who Keeps On Moving

Don't expect Carolyn Hanlon to gush about the joys of Russian transportation just because she runs a travel agency here. As Moscow director of the London-based East-West Travel, Hanlon, 28, finds herself jetting to cities within the former Soviet Union at least once a month, arranging things like hotels, transportation and interpreters for her business clients, primarily oil companies. But not because she enjoys it. "You pay to be abused on some of these airlines, that's the problem," she says. "The thing is, people know that anyway. You can't lie to people." Hanlon, who grew up in Nottingham, England, has a forthright manner that seems to please her customers, who through word of mouth have helped her business grow profitable in less than a year. But that directness has not always gone over well with her neighbors on Ostrovskogo Pereulok. Her grand old apartment, which also has served as her office, is filled with boxes now, and the walls are bare. She is preparing to move out early, in part because of a regulation this year that prohibits using a residence as a business. But even more pressing is her stormy relationship with neighbors which has made it impossible to stay, she said. The trouble started the moment she moved in. Her next-door neighbor demanded a monthly stipend for having to "live next to foreigners." Hanlon's indignant refusal to do anything of the sort earned her regular visits from the police for all manner of odd complaints. The last straw came after a plumbing accident did some damage to the flat below hers. The family demanded $17,000 for damage that she described as "minimal." After they initiated court proceedings and sent some brawny "representatives" to visit her, she settled on $4,000, and started hunting for a new place. While these difficulties might be enough to send a faint-hearted soul on the next plane home, Hanlon will have none of it. "The first year here was such fun -- there was always some fly in the ointment you had to sort out," she says. "I've learned a lot about running a business." True Confessions Never flies without: A silver Orthodox cross around her neck that she found when she moved into her appartment. Misses most about Moscow when in London: "I miss the complete chaos that is here -- London is so normal." Misses most about London when in Moscow: "On a Saturday morning, going shopping and meeting friends in a pub or whatever." Pet peeve: The cost of living. "It's insulting to go into a supermarket and see a bag of potato chips that says 20 pence on the bag with a price tag over it that says $1.50." Favorite getaways in the former Soviet Union: A posh hotel in Tallinn, Estonia, where you can rent the entire swimming pool and sauna for a pittance, or summer camping on the Istra River outside of Moscow. Favorite mode of transportation: The 10-year-old black Hackney Cab she brought over from London, which she uses to ferry customers between airports.