Took the 8.10am bus from Funchal terminus to Santana on 28th Nov. A spectacular journey indeed. When I got on the bus I thought "wot no air con" when we passed thru the clouds at what must have been over 4,000ft, I thought "wot no heating". There are a few broad leaf trees up amongst the cedars and these were in Autumnal glory, fantastic. The descent down to the north coast then on to Santana was equally spectacular. About 2 hrs in total, but time well spent..
There's not much in Santana other than the tourist centre based around some A frame houses, a public toilet (much needed) and some fantastic alpine like views back up the mountains. If you stray a bit you will come across old women actually living in well tended thatched A frame houses.
But be warned, I was stopped by one such old lady who invited me inside her house, it was an offer I couldn't refuse (but I knew what was coming). The inside of the house was tiny, but immaculate, the old lady even took my photo sat on her bed. Then the tears, the story of her late husbands cancer (I think, I couldn't really understand a word she was saying), then the outstretched palm. As I expected this I had positioned myself near the tiny doorway. I put €2 in her hand (it was worth that to see this little piece of cultural history), she wanted more, so I made a swift exit. A harmless event really and possibly brave of the old lady to invite any old stranger in.
I took the first bus back to Funchal, this one went under the mountains and back via Machico so I got the trip under the airport runway, wow!