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By Pam Hobbs

Turku, Finland: Often during my travels when I stay in a place for a few days, I start wondering what it would be like to live there. On one sunny morning I opened my curtains to the River Aura, watched office workers cycling along its banks to the city's downtown core, and decided Turku would be a very pleasant place to call home.

Located on Finland's south west coast, this is the country's oldest town and one-time capital. While no records have survived as to its exact beginnings, it is known that a monastery was established here in 1249, and that thirty years' later Turku Castle was built to house the governor. It remained the Finnish capital until 1812 when, to be closer to ST. Petersburg, it was moved to Helsinki.