I jumped ahead in my spiel about mounts so let me go back a bit. Leveling in the 30’s was dull. Or, as I should clarify, the Arathi Highlands were dull. The Arathi Highlands was a level 30-range zone with some spiders and raptors to kill and not much else. The horde settlement for the place was an Orc stronghold called Hammerfell, and it had about 3 quests. I’m pretty sure 2 of them were to kill 10 of those aforementioned spiders and raptors, respectively. The point is that it was a place that sucked to level in as there wasn’t much to do, which was a pretty big stain on my leveling experience in my 30’s. It was at that point I got more into the PvP (Person vs Person) aspect of the game, specifically battlegrounds, which were instanced battlefields where players fought each other to complete a certain objective (capture-the-flag, base capture and protect, etc.). The Arathi Highlands sucked, but the battleground Arathi Basin was fun for me, where the emptiness of the Arathi landscape actually worked to benefit the playing experience by filling that space with people beating the crap out of each other. That made that otherwise somewhat dismal leveling period a lot better for me.
The level 40’s was when it got interesting and fun again, and zone variety was once again a thing. The biggest and most popular level 40’s zone was by far Stranglethorn Vale, a vast dense jungle on similar scale to the Barrens, filled with trolls, tigers, gorillas, pirates, and a big bustling trade city of goblins. Those greedy bastard goblins, they always had a constant devious grin plastered to their faces. They were (originally) a completely neutral race, somewhat technologically advanced that always looked for ways to get their grubby hands on gold, so they didn’t discriminate based on faction. (In a later expansion, a sub-sect of goblins were added as a playable race to the horde, but most of them are still neutral) The goblin town in Stranglethorn I mentioned was one such rare neutral hub, where Alliance and Horde players had to get along, lest they be destroyed by the constant vigilant guards everywhere. Once out of the city and into the wilderness of the jungle, however, anything goes.
Stranglethorn earned a fearsome reputation of being a hotly dangerous PvP place where it was advised that you tread lightly while questing, as it was easy to get your face smashed in by someone of the opposite faction while you were collecting troll ears or whatever. That happened a lot. Not much to me personally, thankfully enough, but I’ve heard plenty a horror story about things like people being corpse-camped, where they’d be sniped (or “ganked”) by someone over and over again whenever they tried to revive themselves after having been killed by them. As such, Stranglethorn was where stories were made, and thus it was an unforgettable place that were part of what made my 40’s a joy. It helped that, as I was a Rogue, I could stealth and have a much easier time of avoiding people.
The other part I loved at that time was another zone on the opposite continent called Tanaris. The desert of Tanaris. It sounds somewhat boring by nature of it being a desert, but it was actually a fairly bustling, quest-heavy area. What greatly facilitated the atmosphere of the place was the music, which was hauntingly beautiful (and downright beautifully terrifying at night, with wailing noises and an ambient effect that sounds similar to heavy breathing). It was also home to a very enjoyable dungeon, a city of sand trolls called Zul’Farrak (trolls can live freaking anywhere in WoW, they’re likely the most adaptable sentient race in Azeroth), and that place had its own collection of quests. It also had a unique sub-event where you had to help a group of NPC’s hold off an army of sand trolls from atop a pyramid. I spent levels 45 to 50 mostly just doing that dungeon over and over again, it was that fun.
After that, I was getting to my 50’s, where the real content of the Burning Crusade was waiting for me.