Happy National Day in Norway! Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as “Syttende Mai” (17th of May) or Grunnlovsdagen (The Constitution Day). Declaring Norway an independent nation, the Constitution was signed on May 17, 1814 in Eidsvoll, Norway. Erlend Folstad, the only Norwegian onboard National Geographic Endurance, gave a presentation this morning about the history of Norway and its path to independence.

This afternoon, we stopped at a small and truly remarkable fishing town called Bjørnsund (a recommendation by Erlend). The fishing community had a population of between 500 and 600 residents just after World War II. As part of the mass exodus of people leaving rural Norway in the 1960s, the town was totally abandoned by the early 1970s. In recent decades, folks have returned to the island, reclaiming abandoned houses as their summer homes.

In Zodiacs, we cruised the incredibly calm harbor with its massive sea walls that ward off 50-foot winter seas. A few early summer visitors spoke with us as they waved Norwegian flags patriotically. The town’s namesake bear was at the end of the harbor, posing for photos and overlooking the town. What a beautiful little “fishing turned summer home” community, and we felt totally privileged to visit it!