Couple visits Turkey during recent coup
Mont Vernon residents spent two weeks in country
MONT VERNON – After the failed coup in July – and before that, three terror attacks – travelers all over the world might be taking Turkey off their bucket lists.
Not Michele Thomas. She and her husband, Ralph Sommese, were on a two-week trip to Turkey when the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan put down a civil rebellion on Friday, July 15.
More than 300 people were killed and 2,100 injured during the coup organized by a faction of the Turkish armed forces.
The couple were in an Istanbul hotel that night close enough to the fighting that they could hear what they thought were firecrackers.
On Saturday, they went shopping in the city and didn’t learn about the coup until they returned to the hotel at 3 p.m. When they went out to dinner that night, they saw people rallying support for the Turkish government and waving Turkish flags.
The next day, they took a seven-hour bus ride to Ankara, the Turkish capital, where many government buildings – including Parliament and the presidential palace – were damaged.
"We never felt unsafe," Thomas said. "I guess it sounds odd, but we didn’t spend time watching the news."
Istanbul is a multinational city, filled with people from all over the world – Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Nepal and India, as well as the U.S. – and Americans aren’t generally noticed, Thomas said.
She said they love the country and the people are warm and hospitable, and the Turkish government can be relied on.
Thomas recently retired from Wilton- Lyndeborough Cooperative High School, where she taught ancient civilization and American history, and her husband teaches history at Fairgrounds Middle School in Nashua.
Both had been to Turkey before, under the Turkish Cultural Foundation’s teacher study tours.
"I’d go back tomorrow," she said. "Once is never enough."
Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.