I have been doing a lot of research over the past 6 months and our trip to Turkey is almost here. We leave for Poland in a week, then pick up two friends and fly to Istanbul to start off (3.5 days). We then fly to Cappadocia (2 days) and finally fly to Side (2.5 days). Below is what I have planned for Istanbul. I would appreciate any input (suggestions, omissions, mistakes made, etc...). We are four adults in our 40's. Normally budget travelers and we have an apartment rented in Sultanahmet (next to the Spinel Hotel). I am a Junior High Social Studies Teacher (Global Studies and History). We are not big museum collections people, so I am not sure actually going through Topkapi Palace other than the grounds is something we will want to do. I am especially looking forward to being there during Ramadan.
I am not sure about timing, so I don't know if I am planning too much or not enough each day.
Day 1 (1/2 Day) - Arrive about 1:00. (Flight from Poland @ 6:00am, so long day already). Thought about heading to an authentic hammam, hopefully with classic/historic architecture. Not looking for touristy/"spa" hammam. Get our bearings and see the old town at night.
Day 2 (Full Day) - Viewing sites in Sultanahment (Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome/Obelisks). Take Tram/Fenicular to Galata Tower for view of Sultanahmet. I have a picture of this view on my classroom wall (http://www.panoramas.com/images/T/IST1.jpg). If time, Grand Bazaar / Suleymaniye Mosque.
Day 3 (Full Day) - Take Tram to Topkapi for Panorama 1453. Walk along (and climb where possible) Theodosian walls towards Chora Church. Possibly walk down to Balat to catch Ferry back to Eminou/Sultanahmet. Along the way see Palace of Porphyrogenitus, some mosques, and Rum Kilisesi. If time, Spice Bazaar, Rustem Pasa Mosque, New Mosque
Day 4 (Full Day) - Currently nothing planned. Catch up of things not possible other days. Day cruise on Bosporus. Open for suggestions. (I didn't want to plan this day out without knowing if other days are doable. I want to make sure there is time for everything previously listed before adding others to the itinerary.)
Day 5 (Flight Leaves At 6:15am from Sabiha Gocken to Kayseri)
For evenings, we will probably do a Turkish Night cruise on the Bosporus. I need to go back through my saved forum posts to get food recommendations (although I do remember the special Ramadan Pide is important to try!). Since I have been working for 6+ months on this, some things have become a blur to me.
I appreciate everyone's insights and suggestions. Also, if anybody knows of a good-rate Cirrus/MasterCard/Maestro ATM in Sultanahmet, that would be appreciated too. The MasterCard ATM site doesn't like most of the street names I try to put in.
My rambling is done and I look forward hearing from all those who have filled this forum with so many wonderful tips and advice!