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Salud! Cheers! Na Zdrowie! : Times Writers' Concise Correspondents Course in Cosmopolitan Conviviality

March 16, 1986|Robert Gillette

WARSAW — If you ever find yourself in Warsaw, chances are it is for reasons other than sampling the night life.

To be fair about it, Warsaw offers a selection of small, Old World cafes ( kawiarnie ) where the visitor can sip an espresso or a brandy, enjoy a pastry and glimpse the ferment of intellectual Poland. Try the Nowy Swiat, at Nowy Swiat 61, or the Bombonierka on New Market Square.

Drinking is another matter. As in the Soviet Union, the purpose is general anesthesia, the means is vodka and the place, for the most part, is at home. Outside the standard tourist hotels, bars are few and seedy.

For the dedicated nocturnal tourist, there are the nightclubs of Warsaw. The biggest and poshest, by socialist standards, is the Kongresowa in the Palace of Culture, that unloved gift from the Soviet people that dominates the center of town.

After the 750-zloty cover charge ($5 at the official rate, or $1 at your cab driver's rate), another 121 zloty buys you a piece of pheasant and 700 more fetches a bottle of Soviet champagne. As in most such establishments, midnight brings a striptease show of dubious artistic merit.

Somewhat downscale is the Kaukaska at Marszalkowska 104. Champagne Pompadour is the specialty of the house. The quality of entertainment is rated by the enthusiasm with which customers lob chunks of partridge (412 zloty) and goose (450 zloty) around the room.

For the truly adventurous, there is the Nimfa (Nymph, which should tell you something), across the Vistula River in the working-class Praga district at Wal Miedzeszynski 339/411. Cover is only 300 zloty. Disco music fills the evening hours till the midnight strip show. The Nimfa draws a diverse clientele, from Marine guards at the U.S. Embassy to Libyan students.

In most such nightspots in Warsaw, it will be presumed that lone males seek companionship as much as refreshment.

Na zdrowie --to your health!.

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