This is how we saw Nepal a few weeks before the earthquake.
Kodari, the border town with Tibet, is just an unpaved road with a few shops, guesthouses and restaurants around and a bus stop at the end of the road. The first thing we did was to have our Nepali visa stamped valid for 3 months in a small office in Kodari, and after that we went straight to the bus stop to take the first bus heading to Kathmandu.
And so we did. We jumped in our first Nepali bus and we tried our first Nepali road. And it was official: we were in a total different country, nothing to do with Tibet or China. It was an old bus literally full with people, with windows you could hardly open and even if it was a bit cold outside, it was hard to breathe inside, even more with our winter clothes from Tibet.
We were located in Thamel, the main touristic neighbourhood of the capital of Nepal. This had good things (nice bars, Western food which was quite appreciated after months on the road and the monotonous Nepali food and shops and supermarkets to make your life a bit easier) and bad things (touts everywhere offerring you all kinds of tours and things, tourists everywhere and higher prices than in the rest of the city).
After a good pizza and finding out that in Nepal everything is quite cheap except beer, we went back to our hostel to have some good rest. We planned to wake up late the following morning but the owner of the hostel told us there was the annual Hindu festival at Pashupatinath Temple that day, and we shoud go and see it, as it is a very special celebration. OK, no long sleep, then.
The following days in Kathmandu were devoted to rest, sleep and take everything easy. Actually Nepal was the first country we didn't have to rush. We had a 3-month visa, so that allowed us to have days without doing anything, just go for a walk, try some Nepali food (basically momos and dhal-bhat) update the website a bit, go to the Western supermarket, etc.
Besides resting and eating, we also did some sightseeing and visited the landmarks of Kathmandu and of the Kathmandu valley. We spent a total of 12 days in Kathmandu (if you just want to sightsee, 2 days are more than enough) and in that time we got used to the city and everything related to it. And without having been yet to India, the feeling was that the Nepali capital could well be an Indian city (not only for the fact that most of the people are Hindu, though). Kathmandu is full of dust and pollution, most of the people wear facemasks to protect themselves, the traffic is heavy, when it rains it rains dust and it is almost impossible to walk on the street, you have to get used to the loadshedding (power cuts of 13 hours every day) and live without electricity more than half of the day...
During these 12 days, we went to the Monkey Temple to enjoy beautiful views of the city, to Durbar Square to be impressed with the ancient temples and palaces, to Pashupatinath Temple to enjoy the annual Hindu celebration, to the surrounding villages in the Kathmandu Valley of Patan (the most beautiful Durbar Square in Nepal plus the experience of being blessed by the local Kumari or living goddess), Bouddha (the biggest stupa in Asia) and Bhaktapur (a realy nice Durbar Square and an even more beautiful pottery square) and we just got lost in Kathmandu's alleys discovering stupas, temples and small shops.
Anyway, we enjoyed everything there, especially the Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. But we have to say that there's a quite big downside of sightseeing in Nepal: you have to pay for everything. Literally. And as a foreigner you have to pay a lot, which is in my opinion not fair at all. How in the world you have to pay 8 USD to visit Kathmandu's Durbar Square? Or 15 USD for Patan's? Please, I agree in paying, but reasonable prices. Nepalis have everything for free and you, just by being a tourist, have to be ripped off. Government of Nepal, think a bit, please. Tourists come to your country, spend money in accomodation, restaurants, shops, etc. You can charge them an entrance fee to museums, temples or whatever, but charging them astronomical prices to visit a public square? I don't get it.
If you're planning to visit Nepal, you can have a look at all the Nepal Picture Gallery as well as at the Travle Guides of Kathmandu, Patan, Boudha and Bhaktapur. And remember, even after the earthquake, Nepal is without any doubt, a really recommendable destination!