I like the Camino journey being as geographically broad as possible. Starting at the doorstep at home instead of the albergue in Spain, for example. I especially like weaving my other travels into the Camino, which took me to a small church near the South Bank in London.
Back in 2014, my Camino started with stops in both Dublin and Barcelona, those stops becoming conversation points of their own along the way. This time, a conveniently-scheduled Adele concert in London meant I was in the right place at the right time to visit the Confraternity of Saint James to get the first sello (carimbo in Portuguese) in my 2017 credencial.
Visiting the CSJ office
The CSJ maintains an office space at Christ Church, 27 Blackfriars Road. The office is a resource centre and shop, where prospective pilgrims can get information and obtain credencials. They have weekly office hours, and, when I visited, the office was hopping with people popping in for credencials and last-minute questions for heading out.
Before heading to the UK, I emailed the organization to confirm their office hours, and to ask whether I could get a sello. I got prompt replies and was assured they would be delighted to stamp my credencial.
The church and office are easy to find, even though the neighbourhood – like everywhere in London – is in the midst of a lot of construction. I got buzzed in and made myself at home for the better part of an hour.
Chatting with other visitors and perusing the bookshelves, the visit soon took on the routine aspects of a Camino interaction: name, country of origin, Camino route, starting point, starting date. I was delighted to meet lots of others heading to Portugal – though we wouldn’t cross paths – and most were experienced pilgrims.
Finally, it was time for me to move on, as my train to Wembley was fast approaching and Adele certainly wouldn’t wait for me. In addition to my sello, I picked up a badge and the CSJ guide for the Caminho Portugues. The CSJ guides are pretty terrific, and provide a nice alternative view to planning and walking. Credencial and purchases in hand, I headed down the stairs, a few steps closer to Santiago.
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