Journal > Discovering paradise in Portugal

Discovering paradise in Portugal

September 20th, 2018 - Colin O'Brien

20180619-undiscovered-paradise-479Scott Foreman is the founder of Cultivator Content Labs, an award-winning commercial and documentary production company based in Phoenix, Arizona. They’ve worked with everyone from Mercedes-Benz to the NFL, and over the years he’s made a lot of very cool content for us because he’s also an old friend of the inGamba crew.

It’s a bit cliché to say, but when you’re making a short film about travel, it’s crucial that the guy or gal behind the camera “gets” what the trip is about. Scott loves riding his bike, and that always comes across. We love his ability to capture the essence of a trip in his videos, and so we’re excited to launch our newest video, celebrating our Undiscovered Paradise trip in northern Portugal. We caught up with Scott for a quick Q&A about the trip and his work.

What struck you most about this trip in northern Portugal? 

Undiscovered Paradise is, as one would expect from inGamba, a journey into a world seldom seen by tourists. More than a month after my return from the land of cobbles and castles, I struggle to find the appropriate words to describe it. Perhaps that’s why my medium of choice is moving images. 

Why is Undiscovered Paradise so unique? Could it be because the trip was designed by former Olympian and Porto native Manuel Cardoso? Perhaps. Could it be because as you rattle along the cobbles and meander through villages you are likely to be riding along side the boss man’s boss (papa Correia)? Yep. It is an exploration of Portugal’s northernmost corner, which is, for now, mostly beyond the itinerary of your garden variety travel planner.

Having worked with inGamba for more than five years, what struck me the most about the itinerary was how well executed it was. Route planning and hotel selection were on point. The staff were amazing. Even Jim’s nightly standup routine was checkered with some new material. After you’ve put in 80km, when you’re standing atop a mountain, sipping vinho verde, watching the sunset, accompanied by new friends, you become keenly aware that you are experiencing the very best possible version of that moment in time. The most pristine view of that location. I think the experience you have in those moments is what João envisioned in the beginning. Undiscovered Paradise delivers these moments again and again. 

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What makes riding in Portugal so special? 

Portugal is a fascinating cultural anomaly. The history of the Iberian Peninsula reads like an epic saga of battling kingdoms. Celtic tribes fell to the Romans who then fought with Germanic tribes (as did everyone else) and then came the Arabs … and then a few more Catholics. It was a party platter of tribal bickering and shifting ideology. The langue itself is a phonetic casserole of sexy romance based intonations beset by shhshing and guttural transitions.

I’ve always been intrigued by this corner of Europe which is so distinctly its own. Unlike any other place in Europe, Portugal’s charm is its patina. The clotheslines dangling above the street, the slightly rusted iron gate affixed to a mostly crumbling stone wall, the shepherd in the road managing his livestock, these are the artefacts of a culture which comfortably and unapologetically retains its identity. The guy who made your espresso, he’s been there for 30 years. The woman working at the hotel (which used to be a castle) represents a dozen generations or more in that village. And everyone is happy to welcome you to their world. If Portugal isn’t your favorite destination, it’s because you haven’t been here yet. 

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What were the routes like? 

Having begun the journey not quite as fit as I would have preferred, this trip offered the perfect level of challenging climbs with simply enjoyable pedaling. In my view, climbing is best combined with the appropriate amount of high-payoff descending.  Manuel’s route map delivers the perfect wattage-to-smile quotient.

Who does this trip suit?  

Anyone who smiles when they clip into the pedals. It was the most diverse terrain of any inGamba trip I’ve ever been on.

When you’re making a film about a place, what do you look for? 

I prefer to use wide lenses or extremely close lenses. That compels me to live in two states of mind, wide shots and close ups. When exploring a new place, I love to see the entire landscape (so I travel with two drones) and I love to find the unique textures in the close ups which give a place its charm. For the viewer, hopefully, that takes them to the place, allowing them to see it as I did. 

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Visually, what makes Portugal stand out? 

You get all the romantic textures you expect when going to Europe. The cobbles, the castles, and the livestock in the middle of the road, and you also get the diversity of topography. From rocky mountaintops to tree covered winding roads. It would seem Stevie Wonder could shoot beautiful video in this place.

You were there for a week and had to condense that into a few minutes. What’s the secret to that? 

Keep shooting. I try to roll as much as possible, as I trust our wickedly talented team of editors at Cultivator can fashion my collection of footage into a unique visual experience. I’m blessed in that regard, I get to work with the most talented editors of my entire career. 

You can see more of our videos on Vimeo, and check out Cultivator Labs here

 

Portugal: Undiscovered Paradise from inGamba Tours on Vimeo.

Colin O'Brien

Connect:
colinobrien101@gmail.com

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