I wanted to thank TA for all the advice and the knowledge that's part of these forums. I had a wonderful time in Turkey and my ten days only whetted my appetite for more. What follows is a brief trip report in my effort to give back. I'm still trying to sort through the hundreds of photos I took but I'll post those links shortly as well.
I flew Delta from NYC's JFK airport. I am beginning to really dislike Delta's terminals 2 &3 at JFK - they're just poorly structured and the security lines are horrendous. But as the ticket itself was paid for with miles, I can't complain too much. The 10-hour flight was fairly smooth and in about 90 minutes following landing at Ataturk, I was on the Metro and on my way to Istanbul. Reading the guidebooks helped, in that I had my two jetons to make the transfer to the tram and take it to the Sultanahmet stop.
I had booked the night at the Orient Hostel on Aykbyk Cad, but in typical fashion I got turned around and took a really long way in getting to the hotel. Of course this long way meant that I actually got to see some sights along the way, i.e. the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya. That, along with the Saturday mid-morning atmosphere, was pretty cool. Unfortunately I didn't appreciate that quite as much as I would have liked without my luggage!
I arrived at my hostel single - one with a small window and a sink but little else - and a little exhausted from the travels, I actually took a nap, so it was pretty late that day when I wandered out. I decided to just wander without the benefits of a map, and wandered along the city walls to the gates onto the grounds of Topkapi palace, then onto the part between the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya. An early dinner was a doner kebap and some ice cream, and then a lot of wandering getting used to the streets around the area and also to find an ATM. Of course the most convenient one, on Divan Yolu, did not work for me.
After dinner I wandered around some more and dragged out my Rick Steves guide and followed the path for his Old Town back streets walk. I ended up at the Blue Mosque right around sunset and it was awesome to hear the call to prayer with the sunset sky. Great photo ops. I also ended up wandering through the Arasta bazaar later that evening - some stores were still open - and browsed through their wares.