Although I don't expect FFXIV to be any kind of FFXI clone, my experiences in Vana'diel over the past several years will definitely influence my decisions when I start out in FFXIV. Having created a few characters and myriad mules I've realized I have clear preferences in the world of Final Fantasy.
While I may end up creating a few characters and experimenting through trial and error, I'm confident the first character I make will be a wildwood Elezen Lancer. Throughout my experience in FFXI, playing as an Elvaan has always been my favorite. The character models look both graceful and imposing in their gear and their battle animations are often the coolest, IMO. I also plan to fish for a chance to make a little money and spend some relaxing time away from battle. I've chosen Lancer because I loved the polearm as a weapon, but while DRG was cool, I'm hoping to see the lance used with wider variety and without the (awesome, but) purple armor.
I am definitely 100% set on starting in Gridania. Over time, San d'Oria became the only nation I would start characters in because I so loved the surrounding forests in contrast with the rocky terrain of Bastok or the plains outside of Windurst. Gridania looks even more enchanting and reminds of a cross between Rivendell and Lothlorien from LoTR. I definitely prefer the woodland atmosphere and while I've never had the opportunity to REALLY get into roleplaying in game, I do enjoy the idea of creating an detailed back story for my character and getting "into" the game a little; the forest-esque cities definitely help with that.