Back in the good old days, before I got my cane and started yelling at kids and squids to get off mah' lawn, I was leveling. And it was an arid task.
Especially since I was playing a paladin. And as you all know, a paladin just runs up to a mob, judge seal of light, then the player can go make himself a cup of coffee, and if the mob was an elite, maybe do some laundry as well.
Ok, maybe not that bad, I was leveling as a protection and retribution mix, with reckoning, a fast one-hander and a shield. It was actually the preferred and most adviced way to level your paladin, if you wanted to do it with somewhat useful speed.
From level 34 to 62-64, the fastest way to level was to AOE-grind your way through the levels. Much faster than questing and you didn't have to run around as much. Wiping out entire villages of murlocs, (which was reccomended to do with your sound off, mind you,) was kind of fun, although repetitive. If people needed any of them slain, it was just to invite them to the party, while you went on with your neverending slaughterfest. Well, neverending in that term that sooner or later, you outkilled the respawn rate, so you would spend a few minutes running around looting everything.
I still cringe when I hear the battlecries of the murlocs.
Not because they are so fearful, but because they get highly annoying to listen to after a while.
When I think of it, they are the reason I prefer to play with no sounds and rather listen to music in the background.
Despite my preference of leveling as a prot / ret hybrid, whenever I went into instances, I was healing. A paladin as a tank back then was unheard of and a laughable. So my healing gear was always taking up the majority of my bagpacks, just in case I was going into a dungeon.
This resulted in my gear having 1000+ +healing when I dinged 60. Not a bad feat, if I may say so myself. And since I was planning to heal anyway at 70, so after reaching Outland, I switched to a nice holy spec and started to heal, basically grinding my way through the instances.
Now, you could do this on your way to 60 as well, but at that time, the instances of Azeroth were dull and boring and since you actually had to go to the instances to summon people, it usually resulted in an argument of who was to fly and run.
But in Outland, this was quite different. Dungeons were new and refreshing, you hadn't already done them to the death and the design was similar to that of the Scarlet Monastary, so that you didn't have to spend hours in there to get it over with. And you would gain reputation for going there!
Basically, with new spells, new dungeons and overpowered gear compared to what you would get from Azeroth, doing dungeons as holy replaced grinding camps out in the open, where you would be prone to attacks from bored level 70's on flying mounts. Being "safe" on the inside was so much more tempting for everyone who were leveling. Especially since I was leveling on a PvP-server.
But leveling was still hard work. With no heirloom gear, it was a slow grind. Especially since most parties would disband after a successful run. You could get lucky and find a group that were willing to continue, as long as they could go empty bags, repair and maybe get something to drink. 5 to 15 minute breaks were not uncommon, but way faster than to get a new group.
This was all before they increased the experience gained from handing in quests. Nowadays, you can level much faster by doing quests, than by grinding. Although, now people grind instead of doing quests. The only difference is that they are grinding mobs in dungeons instead of slaughtering villages full of murlocs and whatnot.
It's sort of come a full circle. And paladins rock at aoe-grinding still. Gaining our consecration skill fairly early, it's enough to run in, drop a consecrate and hope that the healer figures out that standing with me inbetween him or her and the mobs is a smart thing to do.
So leveling is still just as arid as it was before. It just goes 20% faster if you got heirloom gear.
Then again.. It goes almost 50% faster if you go do quests instead. Even faster if you're doing it with a recruit-a-friend. And yet, we're doing instances instead. I guess we do like leveling to be an arid task.
Go figure. :)
On a sidenote: Guess which word I learned today.