Running parallel to Avenida de Mayo, four blocks north of Plaza Congreso, Avenida Corrientes is another of the city’s principal arteries, sweeping down to the lower grounds of El Bajo. Unlike other thoroughfares, it’s not the architecture along here that is of note – rather, it’s the atmosphere generated by its mix of cafés, bookstores, cinemas, theatres and pizzerias. For years, cafés such as La Paz, on the corner of Corrientes and Montevideo, and the austere La Giralda two blocks west, have been the favoured meeting places of left-wing intellectuals and bohemians – and good places to spot the Porteño talent for whiling away hours over a single tiny coffee.
Corrientes’ bookstores, many of which stay open till the wee hours, have always been as much places to hang out in as to buy from – in marked contrast to almost every other type of shop in the city, where you’ll be accosted by sales assistants as soon as you cross the threshold. The most basic places are simply one long room open to the street with piles of books slung on tables and huge handwritten price labels. There are more upmarket places, too, such as the very swish Gandhi at no. 1743 and the leftish, alternative Liberarte at no. 1555. Almost as comprehensive as the bookstores are the street’s numerous pavement kiosks, proffering a mind-boggling range of newspapers, magazines and books on subjects from psychology to sex to tango.