Sultan Ahmet Suites, Nida’s selection of a place for us to crash for four days was perfect in many ways. Lots of space for four kids to romp around, central location (the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace and cheap as well as expensive food were all a short walk away). Unlike a hotel the suites were bang in the middle of a residential/bed and break fast community so you could see life go by right out side your door.
First impressions of Istanbul, a city of dark clouds, minerates, masjids and gorgeous sunsets. Which quickly get resets when you discover that the Taxi drivers and the exchange companies in the city deserve to be the central characters of any book that you write about the old Constantinople.
Of the entire four days, the most moving experience was the Sultan Ahmet mosque and the Maghrib prayer that we offered at the masjid on day two.
Despite building the Hagia Sofia a number of times in Civilization IV, somehow the real life version didn’t move me as much as Sultan Ahmet. Having said that it was still a very interesting experience.
Second impression, if you could afford and get used to the taxi drivers and the tourist trap mindset that surrounds the entire Sultan Ahmet area, possibly a city with some great (but obscenely expensive) retirement homes on the coasts of the Bosphorus strait.