I also thought it was kind of funny when I hit sixty about halfway through the Blasted Lands and the anti-fun team's XP penalty for "playing in the wrong expansion" kicked in. As I watched my experience bar's progress slow down massively, I actually found myself thinking "yeah, that feels more like it". I also noticed the number of experience points needed to level, something I hardly ever pay attention to, and it was less than 300k. I distinctly remember coming to Hellfire Peninsula for the first time and marvelling at the fact that my next level was over a million XP away. How times change.
Anyway, mini reviews of the zones I covered on my way - there were four of them as they were all relatively short:
Apart from Lunk the friendly ogre (who is very amusing), this zone felt very familiar. You're still helping the Thorium Brotherhood, though they become friendly much more quickly now than they used to, to kill the same old Dark Iron dwarves with the exact same names (déjà vu?) - but it's still more fun now than it used to be in my opinion, as everything has been strung together into a more cohesive story and they got rid of the need to constantly crawl down into the Cauldron and back up again. That thing used to be the bane of my existence whenever I quested my way through that zone, as I'd inevitably get lost somewhere in the tunnels or on the metal scaffolding outside, unable to find my way back up, and there'd be Dark Irons everywhere and GAH! Now they just dump you at a tunnel entrance towards the end of the zone, you antagonise the Dark Irons in every way you can at once, then you climb up again and that's it. This is one case where I'm honestly in favour of simplification.
I can't really say that I miss anything about the way the Burning Steppes used to be, because as far as I remember there simply wasn't that much there in the first place. Back in Vanilla I just remember it as this place where everyone went to farm Thorium and dragon scales. Nowadays players get to meet up with
Swamp of Sorrows
The next stop in the natural zone progression was the Swamp of Sorrows, which used to be a bit out of the way to get to from the Burning Steppes. Blizzard decided to fix this by adding a mountain highway straight from the latter zone to the swamp, and it just so happens to be traversed by a random woman on a rocket mount who has nothing better to do than sit on a rock in the Burning Steppes all day, waiting for customers. Convenient, but somewhat contrived.
Swamp of Sorrows used to be a very dull place for Alliance (and actually for Horde too as far as I'm concerned) and to be honest it's still not that exciting, though at least there's something to do. There are Steamwheedle goblins, Itharius wanting to get into the Sunken Temple and a newly erected Alliance base among other things. The latter kind of bugged me simply because from what I could see of Stonard from my limited Alliance point of view, it still looked like the same old somewhat poorly equipped outpost that it's always been, but the Alliance somehow managed to erect an entire keep out of nowhere in the meantime. Developer bias!
The Blasted Lands are once again a zone that I remember as pretty boring and empty before the Cataclysm. There used to be a couple of longish quest chains that led you there for some reason or another, but there wasn't much in the way of proper quest hubs. This has been rectified and it's fun. The zone has been spiced up a bit via the inclusion of some greenery, wildlife and worgen in the Tainted Scar, but nods to the way things used to be are still around as well. For example you can run into some mobs that still use the ancient high elf model (hideous!), and the old blood mages that used to give out boring buff quests are still around, as proper quest givers this time. I also found one slightly hidden quest (read: no exclamation point or sparkles to start it), which was both sweet and sad. A good mix of story and random adventure in my opinion.
I have to admit that I felt a slight distaste at the thought of continuing through the Dark Portal after that - I don't share many people's opinion that Burning Crusade content is just horrible to play through these days, but there's definitely a big break in terms of style and story, and it feels jarring. I'll probably leave my little dwarf at sixty for a while and move on to the next alt in order to explore more of the new low-level zones. My paladin never even had to leave the Eastern Kingdoms, so there's a lot left to discover.