The following is pragmatic information for the benefit of future travellers, rather than any sort of lyrical fırst impressıon of this fascinating city. Time constraints, hunger, and the strangeness of Turkish keyboards all interfere with my desire to relate such initial impressions.
My travel book, the 2003 Rough Guide to Turkey, speaks of only one airport in the cıty: Ataturk on the European side of the Bosphorus. EasyJet flies to a different airport: Sabiha Goklen, on the Asian sıde.
To get from the latter airport to Sultanahmet is not actually too difficult, but the means are non-obvıous:
Right outside the termınal, wait for a bus called Is Gunleri (İ am omitting all accents, on account of keyboard unfamiliarıty). The bus will cost more than two but less than three Lira, and you will not be given a ticket or receipt.
Take that bus all the way to Kadhkoy. This will take about 3/4 of an hour, based on modest traffic. At the end, you wıll reach a kınd of bus termınus beside many boat landıngs.
North of where the bus stops, look for a boat that costs 1.3 Lira and that advertises Karakoy as the destination. Take it across the straight, with its gorgeous but hazy views of the old city. Shortly after passing under a low bridge, get off at the first landing.
You are now near the Sirkeci Train Station, in the northern part of Sultanahmet. If you are like me, you will buy a pretzel – for strength – and then spent three whole hours searching for your hostel while admiring the complexity of the settıng, appreciating the beauty of the mosques, and exchanging wary glances with battle-scarred feral dogs.
Now, I really need to go get some dinner.
PS. As of today, Canadians needing an entry visa are being charged US$60. You need to have it in cash, and exact change, before you arrive in Turkey. UK citizens are being charged a more modest 10 Pounds.
PPS. You will never realize how often you use the letter ‘i’ until you try a Turkish keyboard.