Latvian Ruins No 7

Jūrmala sometimes reminds me of a supermodel with a pricey coiffure, shoes and silicone, but who for some reason has a couple of blackened, stray teeth. And so the resort's streets boast not only luxury condos and McMansions on steroids, but also the odd burnt out timber cottage and smashed up sanatoriums, like the former "Hotel Liesma" seen in the photo here.

Judging by the building materials scattered about and the black-t-shirted guard who suggested I get a move on, this former holiday haven may yet rise like a phoenix from the ashes. But it's unlikely that all the local ruins will be polished up to VIP level anytime soon. And not should they, because they are a mask-removing, truthful reflection of Jūrmala's split personality.

For generations folks have come to this pine-scented shore to regain their health. And behind the imposing gates and CCTV cameras, money is laundered in the gently lapping waves, and consciences are soothed like flesh on a SPA massage table. But the best therapy is probably to bathe some sunlight on your soul's darker corners, to see them and accept them at least for yourself.