The Lofoten Islands were as much of a highlight as we suspected they’d be. And thick fog that bummed us out in the southernmost island of Røst, known for its puffin and seabird colonies that we couldn´t really see, soon enough lifted to reveal the otherworldly peaks of Reine to the north. In Henningsvær, we were warmly welcomed by local friends who prepared a meal of tataki-style whale, whale stew and whale meatballs. It’s whaling season now in Norway, but only about 600 of the 1,200-animal quota of minke whales will be caught, with boats traveling from Lofoten to as far north as Bjørnøya (Bear Island) and Svalbard to hunt them. The meat tastes like a slightly gamier version of beef (not fishy at all). And we shared it alongside a cast of Lofoten characters who in turn shared their local knowledge of everything from surviving the cold in Svalbard, sei-fishing tips (pollack) and the best tactics for entering the water to snorkel with orcas and humpbacks, should we be lucky enough to encounter them.