Prague is a city of magic. No, really, it is. Skip the tourist traps and everything that claims to be “authentic Czech culture,” and open yourself up to one of the most enchanting cities you’ll ever experience. Prague is neither sterile West European capital nor Eastern European post-Communist wreck—it’s caught somewhere in between daily reality and the realm of mortal legends. These cobblestone streets were once walked upon by Franz Kafka, the famous brooding author, and planned out by Charles IV, the ambitious Czech king, who dreamed up Prague the way it looks today (aside from the fast food restaurants, of course). And then there’s the more recent specter of Communism, which left the entire country with a semi-permanent hangover and some peculiar sights, like a Malá Strana tower where the Communist secret police spied on foreign ambassadors and Czech citizens with hilariously outdated equipment. But time moves forward, as indicated by the giant metronome that ticks away where an enormous Stalin statue once stood. All this, and the hundreds of spires piercing the air, the roofs merging into one big sea of red, and the glistening Vltava River create the magic. Well, that and the beer that’s cheaper than water, the hip cafes, and the art, from the subtlest of jazz melodies to the heaviest of modern sculptures. Sometimes all you will see are masses of tourists, but Prague’s magic undoubtedly remains.