Adventurer, digital nomad, and Georgia travel expert Breanna Wilson knows a thing or two about being on the go, especially when it comes to travel hacks. Having traveled with plenty of Wacaco brewers, we wanted to hear how she fuels her travel days with the help of her favorite travel espresso maker, the Nanopresso.
With travel back on everyone’s mind, especially my own, I’ve started to stretch my travel muscles again, hitting the road once more – but this time much, much closer to home. So close, I don’t even need to pack an overnight bag because I’ve decided to get reacquainted with the city I call home.
From brutalist architecture and abandoned Soviet structures to the vehicles that shaped how workers and locals once got around, there is so much to love about living in – and exploring – Tbilisi. Especially from the seat of a 1981 UAZ-469 off-road military vehicle.
With my daypack packed and ready to brew with my favorite travel espresso maker all along the way, fueling myself and my travel companions for a long day of sightseeing, it felt good to be back on the road again. And to know I had everything I needed to do it comfortably and safely in this new travel normal.
My morning started by brewing a pour-over using my Cuppamoka before even leaving my apartment because, let's be honest, that’s the one thing every day needs to begin with. I was even kind enough to make a second pour-over for my travel partner for the day – something he was beyond grateful for, especially after he tasted how good my brew was.
Since I knew we had a long day ahead and didn’t want to stop in any cafes for social distancing (and other) purposes, I packed my Nanopresso, fine ground coffee beans, and hot water thermos securely in my day pack. With all that, plus my camera, drone, face mask, and hand sanitizer, I was ready to hit the road.
With four stops on the itinerary, taking us from one end of the city to another, it was such a great feeling to get back into tourist mode – a mode I’ve dearly missed. Here were the four places we visited during our locals-day-out tour of Tbilisi.
The Tbilisi Archaeological Museum
Completed in 1989, Tbilisi’s Archeological Museum once displayed some of the world’s oldest bronze artifacts – artifacts once found in Tbilisi from as long ago as 5000 BCE. The museum is closed today and has been for several years, but it’s one of the city’s most extraordinary examples of 20th-century modern brutalist architecture.
But we weren’t just there for the architecture, since every tour should start with a late morning snack, the Archeological Museum doubled as a great spot to enjoy a quick snack of phenovani khachapuri (a flakier version of khachapuri than the more well-known – and photographed – boat-shaped Adjaruli khachapuri) and lobiani (bean-filled bread) picked up from Oniashvili Bakery, my favorite locals-only to-go window in Gagarin Square.
Following our delicious, and more importantly, leisurely travel breakfast, a shot of espresso was necessary to bring us out of our carbohydrate and cheese food coma. Using my Nanopresso, my go-to travel espresso maker for its versatility, lightweight build, and ability to make a darn good espresso just about anywhere, I quickly extracted two shots – one for me and one for my travel companion.
Re-fueled on caffeine and excited to keep exploring, it was off to our next sky-high stop.
Saburtalo’s Soviet Skywalk
An iron and concrete skywalk that connects one Soviet building to another? Now that’s something you have to see.
It’s hard to miss Tbilisi’s Soviet blocks covering so much of the city even to this day. Built in the 1930s and beyond (these buildings, in particular, were built in the mid-1970s), these buildings have had minor renovation and upkeep (on the exterior, at least) ever since their Soviet Union debut making them a piece of history lost in time. This is exactly what I appreciate about this area and why it also happens to be where I live in Tbilisi.
While I don’t live in one of these blocks, and they are inhabited mainly by families that have lived in these apartments for more than 20 years (at least), I do get to walk by them every day. And for me, that’s a constant reminder of what this country – and the people who live here – have been through and why it’s so exciting to see it coming into its own. I can’t imagine what these walls would say if they could talk – but I’m sure they would have me feeling every different kind of emotion possible (good, bad, angry, happy, desperate, hopeful), which is often how I feel here.
The Chronicle of Georgia
It was off to another neck-breaking sight from the skywalk – a trip out to The Chronicle of Georgia, one of the most recognizable monuments in Tbilisi, and the 1985 creation of Georgian artist Zurab Tsereteli, was our next stop.
The monument is made of 16 pillars standing between 30 and 35 meters tall, telling the history of Georgia’s Kings and Queens and stories from the life of Christ. Walking through the pillars, as I have many times before, I couldn’t help but feel proud to call this tiny nation my home and to have the freedom and ability to spend time exploring sights like this again after so many months of travel uncertainties.
Cuppamoka in hand, it was great to take our time and meander through the pillars, discussing Georgia’s tumultuous but powerful history and what’s in store for it next – a conversation that certainly wasn’t short and that needed caffeine to fully articulate.
Inside the Mtatsminda Abandoned Cable Car Station
With our last bit of caffeine finally wearing off, it was off to our last stop – and one of my favorite secret spots in the city. We were off to the abandoned Mtatsminda Cable Car Station. Tucked away in plain sight, sitting just off Rustaveli Avenue, near the Rustaveli Metro Station, this is one of those places that locals and tourists pass everyday but have no idea it exists.
The former Mtatsminda Cable Car station might be abandoned these days, but that doesn’t make it any less amazing to discover. Behind street vendors and steps away from the bustle of city life, sneaking into the station may take a bit of ingenuity (there’s a window you can easily crawl through), but that’s half the fun.
Ditch the Café: How to Brew with Your Nanopresso Travel Espresso Maker
While grabbing a coffee from a local café used to be part of the whole travel experience, I prefer to bring and brew my own coffee and espresso for a few different reasons these days.
First, it’s better for the planet. The less paper cups and plastic I use, the better.
Second, it’s better for my wallet. By brewing my own espresso and coffee, that’s a few dollars saved with each brew.
Last, it’s better for my diet. When I’m brewing my own coffee and espresso, I know that I’m using organic beans and that I won’t be tempted to add unnecessary flavored syrups and sugar to my drink. Not to mention the pastries behind the glass counter that get me every time – who doesn’t love a chocolate croissant!
Plus, not needing to enter a café allows me to practice social distance without stress. The fewer people I’m in contact with during a travel day, the better, for the time being.
But, bringing a travel espresso maker like the Nanopresso along with me does require a few things.
I ground my coffee beans the night before, putting them into as small a container as possible. The smaller the container, the less air exposure, and the fresher my finely ground coffee stays.
In the morning, I boil my water in a kettle and pack it in a thermos that will keep hot for the day.
If I plan to share with friends, I pack a few small packets of sugar and milk in another small container.
Thankfully there’s no need to pack mugs or anything else, thanks to the brewers coming with built-in cups, scoops for measuring out the grounds, and brushes to clean away any mess, which helps save space in my bag. Just a few more reasons why the Nanopresso is the perfect travel espresso maker.