Only one race has the privilege of saying they live in a tree. Rising up out of the sea is the great tree Teldrassil, planted in an attempt to recreate the World Tree. In addition to the night elf starting area, the tree houses the capital city of the night elves. Friendly players will most likely approach from the sea, taking either a boat or hippogryph flight to the now-reclaimed Rut'theran Village. Teldrassil is little more than a looming shadow from this vantage point. The only things to do on Rut'theran's island are take one of three boats or step through the glowing pink portal.
Once among the branches, the city of Darnassus is laid out in an open, circular pattern. Major quarters ring the edges, while the central bank is surrounded by a large lake. I'm not sure if the trees on Teldrassil count as trees or merely branches, but the night elves make the most of them by carving them into buildings.
Skipping back through the Temple Gardens, taking advantage of the lovely stone bridges over the lake, we come to the Cenarion Enclave, my Ally home-away-from-home. (What wouldn't I give for something like this in Thunderbluff?) The buildings are hollowed-out trees that house druid, hunter, and the elusive rogue trainers, and players can train their riding skill and purchase nightsaber mounts here. The top room in the druid section is conspicuously empty. The walls leading to the underground rogue trainers have some interesting runes carved in them!
Northeast of the Enclave is a recent addition to the city: The Howling Oak. This is the sanctuary for the Gilnean worgen, and houses class trainers and refugees and not much else. The atmosphere itself is cool enough: the Oak is a "worgen tree" much like the massive Tal'doren in the worgen starting area. Mysteriously, there are no residences at all here.
Southeast from the Enclave is the Craftsmen's Terrace, which holds the city's inn, the Argent Dawn ambassadors, and the city's profession trainers and vendors. Here are more wooden, open buildings, some of which contain creature comforts like beds and privacy screens, the answer to wall-less rooms. Along the outer edge are spectacular, five tiered buildings. When there was no flying in Azeroth, these were perfect, but now that I can fly up to peek in the frosted windows I would love to be able to fly right inside and move in!
Last, but not least, is the Warrior's Terrace. This brings us back to the classic marble pillars and houses the warrior trainers and battlemasters tucked away in corners. Continuing east through the wide walkway will bring players once again onto soft grass. Heading past the wisps and ancients will bring you to Teldrassil proper.
Darnassus has cool relaxation down to an art. You can see the serenity reflected in the open, guileless architecture and layout of the city and feel it in the always-shady, damp and mossy flora directly intwined with the buildings. There are a few locations in the city perfect for roleplayers to insinuate themselves into the daily life alongside the NPCs, which makes me very happy! As much as I love my Hordies, gorgeous cities like this one make me wish I could visit them more regularly.
Green Grass, Purple Shade